Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Lance, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 9, 2012
    The Enterprise's Restroom
    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 and Insurrection 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. :confused:
  2. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 22, 2009
    Great Britain
    Star Trek is one of the best things to happen to television. TOS, TNG and DS9 are 3 of the greatest TV shows you could ever watch.

    ..but the films, whether TOS or TNG, are mediocre apart from a tiny select few of them. The film series is a dumbed down, frequently half-arsed parody of Star Trek and while I'm glad it exists so we get gems like Wrath of Khan or Undiscovered Country, I have little time for most of them in comparison to the far, far superior TV incarnation.

    DS9 is my favourite Trek and I'm grateful it never made it to the big screen. A committee led Hollywood continuation would have pissed all over the finale.

    I do think First Contact is fun action shlock but considering TNG is the show that gave us beautiful TV sci-fi like The Inner Light, it just isn't good enough. On a similar note, Search for Spock and The Voyage Home are fairly bland compared to the 15 or so best TOS episodes.

    It isn't a question of whether TNG is suitable for action blockbusters. It's a question of whether any Star Trek generation is suitable for that.
  3. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

    Aug 23, 2001
    Full of hot air.
    Short answer? Yes.

    TNG's "sophistication" (for lack of a better term) was just too heavy for the cinematic world. TPTB were force to reinvent the series to be like the swashbuckling adventure TOS was and it just didn't work. I've often said that most of TNG's action scenes (or at least FC, INS, NEM) literally looked like grown men in the backyard playing astronauts and aliens with their ray-gun toys. It was just too hard to take seriously, which is why I think GEN, even with all its problems, is the best of the lot.

    Somethings have no business on the big screen. Because you can do a thing doesn't mean you should do a thing. Or something. I'm sure that, throughout TV history, there have been countless series where someone said "Let's make a movie!" and everyone else in the room facepalmed. TNG should have been one such series.

    And your point about Berman is also a good one. I tend to defend him more than most and think he is capable of many good things. Film making is not one of them. Paramount should have insisted on bringing in new talent. And when I say "talent" I actually mean talent and not names to drop.
  4. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jan 30, 2001
    I'm not sure moving to the big screen was a mistake. But going straight to the big screen was. There was no time for general audiences to 'miss' the characters plus they were still competing with weekly adventures of two series.

    Voyager should have been delayed til DS9 ended and the TNG movies shouldn't have premiered until 24-36 months after "All Good Things..."
  5. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

    Nov 22, 2001
    Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
    IMO, the best TNG movie was "Best of Both Worlds" (how ironic that CBS plans to release it in limited theatrical release in April).
  6. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 13, 2012
    Location? What is this?
    I did like Generations and I LOVED First Contact... I just really wish they waited for about 10 years before trying TNG on the big screen, and put the franchise in fresh hands -- the way they did with TOS. Even though I know they didn't plan the TOS movies with that timetable in mind, it worked really well and visual effects improved so much and the cast was obviously older, TMP just felt epic regardless of the dry points of the movie. And that led to the successful sequels which were mostly awesome in my opinion.

    Since the TNG movies started immediately after the finale, there was a sense that we were just watching the TV show on the big screen which cheapened the experience to a degree. Every aspect of Generations, from the writers to the music to the ship itself (with small variations), was all too familiar and really made the film seem smaller even though it was on the big screen. Plus very little time passed and there was no nostalgia about it. Not sure if that makes any sense.

    Obviously given the success they were having at the time, if I was in charge and I asked to delay the first TNG movie 10 years and then place the franchise in new hands, I would have been laughed out of the studio never to return. :p
  7. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 5, 2005
    This sounds about right to me.

    Plus, I think TOS had a greater range, enabling TOS to make a variety of movies. TOS can do action, comedy, drama, melodrama, adventure, high concept sci-fi, and so on.

    I don't think TNG had that range, and by that point TNG was being reduced to space action films every time anyway.

    It's too bad, because I think a TNG movie like "The Measure of a Man" would have been refreshing and great. But the movies require super-villain evil bad guy and kewl space battles and fisticuff actions. Oh well.
  8. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Commodore Commodore

    Feb 21, 2012
    Winston-Salem, NC
    They've done that with J.J. Abrams and people still complain! ;)
  9. arch101

    arch101 Commodore Commodore

    May 3, 1999
    10 miles west of the Universal Hub
    I wish they had done films while TNG continued to run. The argument the studio made for ending TNG was that they wanted to move that cast into films and nobody would pay to see them if they could watch them for free on TV. I thought they should use the TV show to advance the story towards a big budget feature every other summer. X-Files did this rather effectively. They built a story and climaxed it with a film that did rather well before returning the following fall for more TV show.
  10. heavy lids

    heavy lids Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 29, 2013
    Very true. With many things, not just Trek, you need a break from time to time to then rediscover why you love it.
  11. mos6507

    mos6507 Commodore Commodore

    Dec 22, 2010
    Talent is subjective.
  12. Anji

    Anji Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 7, 2003
    Assisting in the birth of baby Horta on Janus VI
    No, it was not a mistake to take TNG to the big screen, but it was a mistake as to how they were done. All three movies seemed rushed and it seemed to me that no one, especially the actors, took the films seriously. They all assumed because it was Star Trek it was going to be an automatic hit and there was no reason to put forth any effort in the acting, directing or writing of the productions.
  13. Argus Skyhawk

    Argus Skyhawk Commodore Commodore

    Jan 20, 2001
    Argus Skyhawk
    All three? Which of the movies have you decided to ignore? From your avatar, I assume it's not Insurrection :)

    Seriously, I don't think it was a mistake to move TNG over to the movies at the time they did. I simply wish the movies they made had been more memorable. And for the record, I happened to like all of the TNG movies.
  14. Infern0

    Infern0 Captain Captain

    Oct 17, 2008
    The "feel" of the TNG movies was too different from the TV shows

    I don't like it when things are different.
  15. Saul

    Saul Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 27, 2002
    I think it was the logical choice. They went as far as they could with the TV series. Movies allowed to expand and tell a different story without the constraints of Television. I think it didn't try hard enough to take advantage of what they could do in a movie opposed to the TV series. Insurrection felt like one of TNGs less interesting episodes. First Contact like the most exciting. Nemesis was just trying to do TWOK again.
  16. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Commodore Commodore

    Feb 21, 2012
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Spoken like a true Trek fan?

  17. ALF

    ALF Commodore Commodore

    Mar 12, 2005
    I'm inclined to say yes as I feel Star Trek belongs on the small screen... however 7 seasons was enough and without the films we would not have had First Contact which was so worth it.
  18. Caligula

    Caligula Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 26, 2001
    Knoxville, TN USA
    It was not a mistake to make the move to the big screen for TNG. I would even argue that it wasn't a question of whether or not it was the right time. What bugs me about all the TNG films (even First Contact, which I love), is that the characters aren't who they were on the show.

    Picard was never a gung-ho action hero, and the dynamic between him and Dr. Crusher is eliminated completely. Hell, we barely see much of Dr. Crusher at all through four movies. Data should NEVER have been given his emotion chip. He was much more fun as the emotionless android constantly trying to understand what it is to be human. And whose idea was it to ignore the team of Data and Geordi, one of the best friendships of the TV series? Generations is the only one of the four movies that really acknowledges it! Meanwhile, TNG movie era Troi is no longer the Counselor Troi from the TV show. Now she's just.... Marina Sirtis.

    About the only main character the movies get right is Worf.... and he'd moved on to be a crew member aboard Deep Space Nine by the time of First Contact, the only one of the post-Generations sequels to give a rational explanation for why he'd still be tagging along. Well, Riker pretty much seems like Riker, so I guess he'll do also. But only getting two characters right? That's bad.

    Even when the original six TOS films were at their least impressive, I thought the main cast always felt true to who their charcters were.
  19. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 9, 2012
    The Enterprise's Restroom
    Agreed. Almost none of the TNG movies play to the strengths of the tv series at all; whereas the TOS movies managed to feel like you were at least watching the same guys from the tv show.

    (I always found it ironic that TOS on television was very much centered on the 'power trio' at the expense of the other characters, but the movies gave the rest of the ensemble a bigger share of the pie... by contrast, TNG always had a very strong ensemble feel on tv, but the movies narrowed the focus considerably to just two or three characters. :confused:)
  20. HaventGotALife

    HaventGotALife Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 6, 2011
    Very interesting topic and a well-organized post.

    That said, I think it was a mistake for the production team that did the series in 1994, became screenwriters and executive producers of a movie. Gene Roddenberry ran into this problem in 1978 when he adapted a Phase II script for his new television show into a full-length feature film. Since we are setting aside the fact that Star Trek was successful commercially in that film, creatively it is was as a stinker, despite a strong director and all the money and resources that Star Trek didn't have in 1966. Harve Bennett was brought in to write Star Trek II, and watched all the episodes, looked over the bible on the show, and came up with an iconic movie that is considered the best of the Trek films to date.

    Next Generation could have done the same thing. I think the show, creatively, was at its lowest point in 1994. It's apex was 1988-1991. I don't believe that it was as easy as they thought to do two shows at the same time. There may have been some burnout. And it would've been nice if Berman had the muscle to tell the execs where to get off sometimes. He has talked very openly about how the creative team had demands placed on them by the studio and it led to a watered-down product, namely Star Trek: Generations. The Temporal Cold War in Enterprise was another situation where the studio stuck their heads in creatively.

    Deep Space Nine hit its stride as the movies were failing to do anything creatively at the box office. I think the fans were saturated by Trek in the 1990s. It has made it hard to penetrate the universe as a new fan because of the successful run of 3 series and 4 movies in that time frame. So it's important to realize that the brand was over-extended and I think it did lead to some less than stellar performances for the movies. Even though the movies all made their money back, press at the time was horrific, both in evaluating the commercial success and the critics judging the movies. Nemesis actually had the most favorable reviews of the TNG movies, and it was not widely watched. The day of Trek was just over.

    Star Trek (2009) successful because it was fun and because it was like nothing seen from Trek in a very long time in terms of visuals and pace. The brand was off the air for 4 years and I think that caused the fans to want more Trek after they had fear it would be gone. It caused me to re-sample the universe, personally, and I am stronger fan of the series than I ever was in the 1990s or 2000s.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013