Star Trek: The Next Generation

 
(i)

 

Still going boldly, updated series is fun for all.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The show is meant to entertain, not necessarily educate. But it does contain plenty of lessons on ethics and tolerance embedded into the stories.

Positive messages

The series highlights the importance of respecting other (alien) races and cultural traditions while co-existing peacefully. Storylines sometimes act as metaphors for contemporary social issues, like discrimination and ethical practices in scientific research.

Positive role models

Starfleet places a premium on conformity and obedience. Characters, usually guided by Captain Jean Luc Picard, often debate right and wrong and how their actions will affect others. Picard is a thoughtful, sincere leader who strives to be the best example he can be, while also being a good friend and captain. Several other characters embody strong positive traits, as well.

Violence & scariness

Plenty of spaceship battles, phaser shootouts, and even the occasional fistfight -- but the conflicts are generally pretty bloodless.

Sexy stuff

Mild flirting and occasional romance, but no onscreen sex or nudity.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking, but nobody ever seems drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this entry in the Star Trek franchise is pretty different from the original. While the first series broke ground for addressing important social issues, The Next Generation is more focused on pure entertainment than social commentary. It's plenty of fun; the special effects are a vast improvement over the original; and many episodes do try to make a larger point, but in general the goal is simply storytelling. And that's just fine.

What's the story?

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION stars Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) as the unflappable captain of the new Enterprise. He is a calm and organized leader -- a sharp contrast to the original Star Trek's James T. Kirk (William Shatner). While TNG is about mankind's ongoing quest to promote peace and tranquility, it's also about having adventures in space. These adventures take the lively crew to far-flung planets and into the past and future. All the while, Picard wrestles with the Prime Directive -– his oath to help people and fix problems without imposing his own will on others.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

TNG is much bigger than the original series -- the bridge, where much of the action takes place, is bigger, the crew is bigger, and even the Federation seems to cover more of the galaxy. Each episode seems to introduce a new race of people (or creature -– or even entity), so viewers might need a guidebook to keep track of which ones are allies and which are hostile. (Fortunately, the series was so popular in its seven seasons on the air that several of those books are available.)

TNG gradually created an elaborate canon of Star Trek lore, which has been replicated in three additional spin-off shows. This complex, finely nuanced interior literature gave the series a strong foundation for storytelling, and many of the episodes have complex, intriguing plots and profound social undercurrents. But the real accomplishment of TNG is simply that it managed to create an entire future universe that seems plausible, is nearly religious about maintaining internal consistency, and is loads of fun to watch.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Prime Directive, which is never interfere in the natural pace of another race's development, because it's almost certain to permanently alter their evolutionary path, and not always for the better. Do you agree with this approach? Does it have any parallels in real life? Are there times when doing what seems like the humane thing can have negative consequences?

  • What is the appeal of the Star Trek shows?

  • Families who've seen other Star Trek shows and movies can also discuss how they're different from and similar to each other. Which one is your favorite?

This review of Star Trek: The Next Generation was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 9 year old Written byCBeth May 23, 2010
 

The Best TV Show Ever!

This is the best TV series ever made. Adventure, good role models, good morals, interesting characters, a vision of the future as a better place with loftier goals for humans -- exploration, interest in and appreciation of the new and different, the opposite of xenophobia. It is great for children and adults (only caution is that there is some violence -- battles, and also sometimes death so parents should consider this when determining what is appropriate for their own children). Enjoy!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Educator and Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written byKimberly B September 25, 2009
 
Our family (kids ages 8 and 9) has watched the entire series and are now watching Voyager. This is a wonderful show for opening family discussion: prejudice, sexism, addiction..it's all there! I believe this series is more appropriate for young kids than the original because it has very little insidious sexism- the mini skirts of the original ST seem very sexist to me, as does Kirk's constant womanizing. There are more strong female characters here and they are not prancing around in go-go boots!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written bystartrekker7849244 October 24, 2011
 

Forget this....

I've seen 28 episodes and say that the language on it is outrageous. I have a Curse Free TV and I keep hearing *BLEEEP* every 8-10 minutes. Sexual references abound. Commander Riker is Captain Kirk's Womanizer side on steroids. He is seen in bed with at least 10 women in those episodes. I can't stand to watch it anymore. Voyager is much cleaner. It does have good role models, messages of equality, and Space and Physics educational upsides, but I do not recommend it.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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