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These Are The Voyages
original airdate: 05-13-2005

Star Trek: The Next Generation was the first show in history of television to be sold directly into syndication. Paramount was concerned that the spin off series would bomb. So instead of selling it to a network, they made deals directly with TV stations airing the original Star Trek series. A brilliant safety net. If the show did bomb then they would simply tack on the additional 13 TNG episodes to the original series package.

Of course The Next Generation went on to become tremendously successful. It even gave birth to a spin off of its own, Deep Space Nine. And then, seven years later “they” cancelled it.

“They” gave a number of reasons. Some creative. Some dealing with the actors desires to move on. However valid those reasons were the biggest push to get TNG off the air was so “they” could move Star Trek out of syndication and into the flagship position of the newly created UPN.

Ironic that on Friday the 13th of May in 2005, UPN would kill the very franchise that was its cornerstone for 11 years. And the final episode of a UPN Star Trek has a double layer of irony since it prominently features characters from The Next Generation.

The last episode of Enterprise takes place during an easily forgotten seventh season episode of TNG: “The Pegasus.” Commander Riker is dealing with a loyalty issue and loads up a key moment in NX-01’s history on the holodeck, to see how Trip dealt the same problem.

In case you’re holding back the last episode in your TIVO, pretending the series isn’t over yet, we’ll throw up the ***SPOILERS*** alert.

Early in the episode Councilor Troi hints that Trip will “never return to engineering.” Then it’s a game of “You Killed Kenny!!!” Trip nearly falls of a scaffolding and Archer reaches down to save him. They comment about the close call and nearly wink at the camera. “Gotcha.”

But you could go blind with all the winking from inside jokes in this episode. Archer toasts to “The Next Generation.” Malcolm reminds Mayweather “All good things…” the title for the TNG finale. Troi finds T’Pols personal view screen and Riker explains “it was on Kirk’s ship.” And of course they have the same old conversation about there being another ship named Enterprise.

However, having Riker walk around a holodeck recreation of Enterprise we gain two fun details. First, we get a better idea of how a holodeck works. On the past three Trek shows the holodeck was nothing more then a room on the ship, mystically governed by the computer. “These are the Voyages…” depicts a holodeck with actual computer controls.

Leading to the second “cool” detail. Since the pilot we’ve heard the Chef’s name tossed around. But he’s never appeared on camera. Riker steps into the role in the holodeck recreation. And who could be a better Chef then Riker?

In all its sophistication, it's amazing how poorly the holodeck replicated the crew of the Enterprise. With this episode happening six years after the one just before it, only T’Pol appears any older. However, Riker and Troi seem to be, oh … eleven years older.

Sure it's nitpicky, but it's fair game. “They” are killing the show before its time. Six years of unwritten history all crammed into 42 minutes and strung together by a poorly constructed back story from a boring forgotten episode of TNG.

Granted, the writers didn’t have much time. And they’d been gearing up for a season cliff hanger – not a series finale. However, we fans deserved something more then a botched backward excuse for a series finale. But we ain’t gonna get it.

Instead we can all chant…

These were the voyages of the Starship Enterprise
Its four year mission…
To seek out worlds already discovered
To waste an entire season on a ridiculous plot line
To lamely get cancelled three years before it was expected, just as it was finally getting good…
To destroy the Star Trek legacy.

What an epitaph.

Kevin Miller

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