Friday, March 1, 2024

 MARCH 2024

A Celebratory Farewell and New Beginning
By Rev Protodeacon George A. Haloulakos

Thirty years ago in 1994, Star Trek: The Next Generation (aka TNG) concluded its seven year run in broadcast syndication with the Hugo Award winning "All Good Things," a series finale so well done that TV GUIDE Magazine rated it the number one finale for any television series!  It was filmed as a two-part episode, but shown as a made-for-TV movie that provided the segue for the classic small screen series to migrate to a series of major motion pictures in the ensuing years.  The Star Trek franchise historically has been very strong with its character development and the deep bonds of friendship between its crew members.  This is especially true for TNG, as the relationship of its bridge officers is noteworthy for following the same formula in this regard as the original 1960s series.  What makes this TNG finale so compelling after three decades?  The simple answer is that "All Good Things" serves as a template on how to bow out gracefully while simultaneously setting up a platform for future adventures in different venues.  From an artistic standpoint, it allowed the TV series to go out on top while from a financial perspective it established a platform by which to create multiple future revenue streams that opened up with the advancement in digital technologies.

The image of the starship Enterprise engenders wonderful memories for both casual and serious fans of the TNG franchise.  The features that made "All Good Things" an award winning film can be identified as follows:

> Innovative format that leveraged the theme of time travel.  Specifically, the story centers on the Captain Picard character travelling back and forth in three different time periods (past, present and future) in order to resolve a paradox in the space/time continuum that ultimately requires the reunion of the Enterprise bridge officers.  The viewer is able to see the action unfold from the Captain's perspective while interacting with the full group of TNG characters from its series run while traversing back and forth in the different time periods.  No other TV series or franchise has ever made more innovative or effective use of the time travel theme than Star Trek, and the TNG finale put an exclamation point on this.
> "All Good Things" was a fitting finale as over the course of preceding episodes, the series was able to tie up all the loose ends in connection with the storyline for each of the main characters.  The TNG finale was able to put a nice bow on its seven year voyage as a valedictory gift to its fans.
> In the closing scene, Captain Picard joins his bridge officers for their regular Poker game, after having shared with them the details of his time travels to help them avoid the missteps that would otherwise lead to them drifting apart.  Having affirmed their strong bond of friendship forged over seven years of interstellar space travel, the fadeout shows Captain Picard dealing out the cards with the promise that more adventures lie ahead!

Since the TNG series finale, there have been multiple Star Trek programs and/or series, some of which have involved the TNG cast to various degrees.  In several instances, we are treated to the TNG bridge crew and its starship Enterprise plotting out new adventures that reflect the passage of real time since the 1994 finale while also interacting with characters from the other Star Trek series that followed.  The advent of streaming technologies and fan fiction have generated enormous creative viewing opportunities and new journeys of imagination.  Needless to say, this was preceded by a series of big screen motion pictures that transported the TNG bridge officers to spectacular new adventures while forever cementing their lasting image as offering an optimistic vision of the future.  As noted, new streaming technologies concurrent with changing demographics and viewing habits have helped keep TNG fresh and vibrant, thereby attracting new generations of fans.

If you are looking for a made-for-TV movie that features imagination, character development, adventure and a truly satisfying ending that leaves the viewer wanting more, then "All Good Things" would be a worthwhile program to watch.  As inferred from the title of this blog, it is both an end and a beginning!

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