In a recent interview, Marina Sirtis discussed the early days of The Next Generation and how the cast actually had to win the fanbase over.
When it comes to Star Trek spinoffs, few have the legacy and devoted fanbase that Star Trek: The Next Generation does.
Over the years the show has become the gold standard for the ever expanding world of Star Trek. It was a huge critical and commercial success, it made a smooth transition to the big screen with three solid films (and Star Trek: Nemesis) and has cemented its place in the history of the franchise.
However, most fans forget that it wasn’t always that way.
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When The Next Generation was first announced, there was a swift and immediate backlash against the idea. “No Kirk? No Spock? The it’s not Star Trek!” was the usual refrain. Star Trek conventions were filled with people who hated the very idea of The Next Generation and were very vocal about it.
See, you have to remember that The Next Generation made its debut in 1987, and way back then the internet as we know it was in its infancy. There was no social media, no blogs, no nothing really. If you were lucky you could use your phone and post on a BBS with a handful of other fans, but that was it.
In fact, if the internet was around when The Next Generation premiered, you can be sure there would have been a Star Trek: Discovery-like flood of negativity and outrage.
Just ask Marina Sirtis. She can tell you all about it.
Sirtis was recently a guest on Graham Norton’s BBC Radio 2 show and talked about those early days when the fans wanted nothing to do with her or The Next Generation.
"“The fans hated the fact that we were on. I mean people assume because we became so successful that it was always that way.“But no, I would go to conventions where there were like 30 people and they’d all be sitting with their arms crossed going, ‘how dare you take the place of our heroes.’ So we really had to win our audience.”"
As someone who was at one of those conventions, I can attest that what Sirtis is saying is very true.
In addition, Sirtis was also asked about Star Trek: Picard and while she didn’t have any new information, she did say that it will be very unlike The Next Generation.
"“I know that it’s 25 years into the future, and it’s not like hearts and flowers asTNG was.“Apparently Patrick, when he told us he apologized for doing it without us… he said it’s a little more dystopic, a little more reflective of how society is now.”"
Obviously it all worked out and The Next Generation became the huge hit it was destined to be. But it was more of an uphill fight than I think most fans remember.
Unfortunately it seems like every new Star Trek series that has come along has had to deal with gatekeepers and fanboys who don’t want anything about the original show to change. And it’s a shame because they really don’t know what they’re missing.