UPN would’ve been wise to bring over a Patrick Stewart-less Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Let’s go back in time to 1993. Star Trek: The Next Generations is a rating juggernaut among all of television and is among the highest-rated if not the highest-rated syndicated shows going. The studio behind Star Trek, Paramount, opted to move the series from television to film starting in 1994. The show would end in the spring of that year, and in November, the first film would air.
It seemed genius at the time. Deep Space Nine was doing well enough in the ratings, and Voyager was in development, so Paramount felt they could just recapture that magic on the Next Generation with these two new shows, all while raking in huge gobs of cash from the films the Next Generation crew would be making.
It did work, and that needs to be pointed out. The film series lasted nearly a decade and spanned four films, while the television shows each hit seven seasons, before ushering in Enterprise, which sort of rebooted the general vibe of the franchise. The Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine were all congruent series, advancing the timeline in a natural and organic way. Enterprise was a prequel, with a different aesthetic and purpose, and fans weren’t a fan of that at the time.
Yet, none of that precluded the franchise from continuing the Next Generation.
Sure, it would’ve likely not included Patrick Stewart, who played famed Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but the series was ready to move on without him after season three, so why not try a season eight with a new captain?
UPN would’ve succeeded a lot more with The Next Generation and Voyager airing on it
Don’t get it twisted, Voyager was a hit for the channel and was either one of, if not the top-viewed show for a majority of its run. But imagine if Star Trek didn’t see the end of the Next Generation crew? It wouldn’t have been hard to do without Stewart. He’d still be around for the films, acting as an admiral, and you’d still lose Miles O’Brien and Worf to Deep Space Nine, but that’s not an issue, that’s an asset.
Instead, The Next Generation would have the ability to add three new characters; maybe even from within the show’s ranks. Maybe Sela returns as a Starfleet spy, or Q really does become mortal in an effort to serve mankind.
Of course, Will Riker would be your captain, and I’d argue that Geordi La Forge would and should become the number one officer under Riker. Data, Diana Troi, and Beverly Crusher would largely remain in the roles they were in previously, maybe with Data becoming chief of security or engineering at some point.
You’d lose some fans who didn’t want to watch a re-worked series, sure, but had UPN brought The Next Generation to their network for an eight season, it’s fair to say that the show would’ve matched, if not exceeded Voyager’s viewers, and that’s reason enough to think the idea would’ve been a success.
Would you have watched a Next Generation series that didn’t feature Jean-Luc Picard, Worf and Miles O’Brien?