In June 1990, Star Trek: The Next Generation ended its third season on a big cliffhanger: Captain Jean Luc Picard became a part of the Borg. The episode ends with Commander Riker giving the order to fire on the Borg cube before fading into “To Be Continued…” It wasn’t quite “Who Shot J.R.?,” but Trekkies had to wait three agonizing months to find out if Picard was going to survive.
The Hollywood Reporter interviewed cast members, writers, and members of the visual effects crew to commemorate the 25th anniversary of this classic episode. The piece sheds light on what was going on with the production of The Next Generation; at the time, the new show was not necessarily accepted by the hardcore Trekkers and needed a shot in the arm if it was going to survive. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The Best Of Both Worlds, Parts I and II” as well as it’s epilogue episode, “Family,” “introduced layers of psychological complexity, bold storytelling, and emotional depth the show had not yet explored.”
The article features thoughts from cast members Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Bret Spiner, and Jonathan Frakes who would direct Star Trek: First Contact which featured the Borg as the big bads. Some of the most interesting stuff in the piece expounds on how low budget the show really was. The show was syndicated and not on a major network. “The budget was small by today’s standards” says Gary Hutzel, visual effects coordinator “A lot of the stuff you see on the series wasn’t shot on a professional stage. A lot of it was shot in people’s basements, because there was no money.”
“That was the turning point on Next Generation’s acceptance as Star Trek,” explains Ronald D. Moore, a member of the Next Generation writers room “Suddenly we had done something that was legitimate and got people’s attention and told a great story. From then on out we carried the torch. We were legitimate and that was the show that turned it around for us.”