Wednesday, April 2, 2014

We need shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Last time that I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation was when I was like a thirteen year-old  kid, so I've been really fortunate that our channel-5 has given us a chance to watch episodes twice a day during weekdays.

I've now seen almost every episode of the series and I have to say that this show is one of the very best - if not the best - when it comes to portraying us humans as beings that are capable of doing something good in the universe.

So, one of the most important things about Star Trek: The Next Generation - and what makes it so special - is that even though it's a drama series, the drama doesn't come from the cast members fighting each other all the time.

Instead, the show relies on having likable, interesting characters and creative storylines. This is of course, universally speaking, easier said than done. Writing drama without 'drama' isn't easy at all.

This principle by the series creator Gene Roddenberry was one of the most ambitious in the history of storytelling, but fortunately it worked most of the time beautifully. The storylines turned out not to be just about characters. They were also about events and ideas.

This is also why writers who applied to get on the show (on board) were heavily vetted. If you weren't able to play by the rules, meaning that if you didn't believe that you can write storylines that aren't about internal conflicts, you were not hired.

When it comes to the actuals characters and the actors on the show, I think almost every character, especially today - since Wil Wheaton became a real geek and has nerd credibility - is universally liked.

The show had characters like, Jean-Luc Picard, Data the android, Worf the Klingon, LaForge the blind engineer with his visor, Riker as the second in command, Councelor Troi as the intuitive person and Beverly Crusher as the ship's medical doctor. They were all good.

If I had to choose my favorite character, it would be a pick between two special members of the starfleet: Picard, played by the wonderful Patrick Stewart and Data played by the always reliable Brent Spiner.

Picard, the commander of the enterprise is an ideal character to represent the human race. He's well educated, intelligent, determined, compassionate and knows what's going on. You could always rely on his ability to make good decisions. He's a safe pick.

But if I had to pick my personal favorite, it would probably be the benevolent android Data, the humanoid who has superior both physical and computational abilities. (For example, he was able to read a book in ten seconds.)

What made Data the fan favorite is that he was always accessible, never got angry, never betrayed anyone's trust and never judged anybody. He didn't show emotions and yet, it felt like he was the perfect human being, even though he was an android.

I think Data is more or less the show in a nutshell. In one character there's a whole universe. An idealistic, enthusiastic childlike thing that wants desperately to learn more and more about us and everything - and who won't hurt anybody.

What makes Star Trek: The Next Generation so good and precious in my opinion is that even though it's thoroughly entertaining, it dares to ask some big questions about life that others shows haven't been able to ask as well.

Questions like what is it that makes us human? What is out there in the universe? How might other races behave? What is a good way to exist? What is right and what is wrong? What are we as human beings capable of doing? These are all big questions.

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