The TNG Films – A Recap

There are some major issues with the TNG films, which is disappointing after a great television run. So what went wrong? Well…age. The cast is all old and tired and don’t look as interested, and the series itself had sort of run its course. See with the original series, they got canceled, and while there were issues in the final season, they were mostly due to behind the scenes troubles…TNG and the films had proven the series really could continue on had it been given a chance.

But TNG had been given seven long years, it had its time in the sun, and instead of moving on, they went onto a film series. Despite the fact that I feel like the last season of TNG isn’t as solid or fun to watch as the preceding seasons, there were still plenty of good moments and episodes to enjoy, and the finale was a wonderful bittersweet end to that show.

So the cast looks old and tired, and unlike the TOS films they don’t use that to their thematic advantage. They also played up the duo of Picard and Data, trying to mirror Kirk and Spock for some reason, even though that wasn’t what TNG was…it had stepped out of the shadow of the original series, and did so in no small part because it used a different dynamic than the Kirk, Spock, and sometimes McCoy grouping…they were an ensemble cast, and while keeping Picard as the lead is not a problem…everyone beyond Data gets overshadowed in the supporting cast. Riker is useless and barely there (granted he was directing 50% of the movies but still), Geordi is forgettable, Troi and Crusher seem like just extras, and I have no idea why they continually brought Worf on board from DS9 if he was just going to use up screen time and lines that could’ve been distributed to other cast members.

Worf is actually a big sticking point for me here. Because I feel like Data got a decent story in First Contact (and annoying but big part in Generations), I feel like Insurrection and Nemesis should have shifted focus over to other characters. Data’s main storyline could’ve been wrapped up with the Borg, the cybernetic angle totally works with him involved…but Insurrection actually CURES Geordi’s blindness, and his reliance on electronic doo-dads to see. So we should get a bit of focus on this often overlooked character. Nemesis should have focused on Riker and Troi leaving, and Picard dealing with change or something. So WHY the hell do we keep bringing back Worf when fans of his can see him WEEKLY over on DS9. The reason of course is that casual fans might question where he is, or maybe the reason is that they just wanted to get the ol’ gang back together. Whatever the reason is, I feel it was a mistake. The reasons within the film for his coming back gets less important with each film, and he just shifts focus slightly from other cast members.

The biggest problem is tone. They made TNG a show with a much more intellectual tone than the original series had had. TOS could be intellectual, but it was often more about the action. TNG was a different kind of show, with some loose arcs, and a more diplomatic nature, it focused on an ensemble rather than a hero, and it proved to be every bit as successful as the original series. So when they decided to make the films featuring this cast: they threw all of that out of the window. We lose the intellectual angle for a more 80s action film angle. So now Picard is like Steven Segal…and he is NOT the actor for that role at all. We lose so much about our characters simply because they dumbed it down for some mainstream audience that was NEVER going to exist for this cast. It is unfortunate, but I really don’t think this cast was ever going to have the same box—office pull as the original. I think to get big numbers in the box office they had to have certain things that were already pretty popular…like bringing in Kirk to hang out with Picard (money gimmick), or bringing back a popular villain like the Borg.

Villains are something I really lament about these films. On film, and sometimes even in the series, I always felt like the Romulans were underused. In TNG they do get a fair shake, but for the most part the Klingons often overshadowed them. I happen to love the Romulans…their sneaky nature, their cold attitudes, the way they interact with Starfleet or Klingons…they are a lot of fun to me, and I feel like they really worked as a great thinking villain, a wonderful counterpart to the aggressive Klingons.

I think proper Romulans should have been the villains for at least one of the TNG films, and I think they could’ve been really strong for a “one last outing” kind of film. They were always this persistent annoyance, someone that was always scheming to get control of the Alpha Quadrant. So I think since their presence had been such a big factor in TNG, they really should have been given some closure in the finale of TNG films. But instead the Romulans play second fiddle to the Remans, who play second fiddle to a Picard clone. Sela would've been at least a familiar face...or hell even that guy Tomalak who showed up a few times. 

We got the Duras sisters in Generations, but again they just play second fiddle to a mad scientist. The Borg were the only villains they really managed to do right. Maybe there weren’t too many people to choose from, but I just think the villains were so uninteresting in the films, and the problems they had to deal with weren’t to captivating either.

So I guess I just needed to rant one more time about how badly this series fell apart. It is a shame that they couldn’t have just ended on “All Good Things…” but where there’s possible money there’s a possible bad film.

NEXT TIME: Before the Beginning