There was one thing Star Trek: The Original Series had that Star Trek: The Next Generation didn’t.
The three main stars of Star Trek: The Original Series were William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley. Their characters worked much like a unit on the series, and, despite the grumblings between Spock and Bones, they were all good friends. The quips and barbs were all in good fun, and it added a sense of camaderie to the show.
That was one thing Jonathan Frakes wished they could have had on The Next Generation. In the Star Trek oral history “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years” by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross [via Screenrant], Frakes said there were moments between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy that he’d always envied, and he wished The Next Generation had the banter of what he calls the “tiumvirate” of the original.
But there was a big difference between Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Though Frakes wished for those moments for Picard, Data, and Riker, The Next Generation had more than three stars whereas The Original Series clearly had three main stars, making it easier to have the snappy dialogue and one-liners.
It would have been difficult to choose the triumvirate from The Next Generation as the stars got equal billing, and it was considered an ensemble cast. On top of that, the series had a different feel to it overall. Captain Picard wasn’t anything like Captain Kirk personality-wise and though he was close to his crew, he often kept a distance from them. It wasn’t until the final episode of the series that he finally played a game of poker with them.
Riker had the swagger and confidence of Captain Kirk, and Data was essentially Spock in android form, but everyone liked everyone aboard the Enterprise. So there wasn’t anyone for Data to spar with, and I, for one, am glad TNG was different from TOS. There didn’t need to be any comparisons to the shows as they were distinctly different. And that’s what made them both stand out in their own ways.