Original Star Trek: TNG Movie Is So Much Better Than Generations

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

For many years, moviegoers joked that Star Trek is a franchise where only the even-numbered films were good. Following on the heels of the excellent Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: Generations felt like another oddly-numbered disappointment despite (and in some cases because) the film had Captain Picard teaming up with Captain Kirk.

That movie’s villain is obsessed with the life he could have had, and we now know how he feels after discovering the plans for a different Next Generation movie written by Maurice Hurley that would have been so much better.

The Next Generation Movie Had Multiple Scripts

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If you’re wondering why Paramount just happened to have multiple scripts for a Next Generation movie, it’s because the producers behind this famous sci-fi franchise decided to hedge their bets for the first TNG film. To this end, Rick Berman created a competition to see who could turn in the best script for the first movie featuring the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Once the late, great writer Michael Piller dropped out of this space race, there were only two stories left: the one written by Maurice Hurley and the one written by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga that would later become Star Trek: Generations.

The Villain We Saw

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One of the more amusing ironies about Hurley’s Next Generation movie is that it bore some fascinating resemblances to Generations, but it sounds like the execution would have been much better. For example, Generations featured Dr. Tolian Soran, a villain who was willing to kill millions of people on a primitive planet so that he could rejoin a kind of blissful interdimensional space known as the Nexus. To this end, he destroys stars in an attempt to change the path of the spacefaring Nexus so he can get back inside of it.  

The Villain We Could’ve Had

In Hurley’s script, we know that a foe gets accidentally tossed into our universe and is willing to destroy it to get back home; in this way, he’s a bit like Dr. Soran on a much larger scale. While we don’t have many specific details of the villain or his plan, it seems that he would have been working with dangerous aliens and creating seemingly random destruction that is secretly part of his evil plan. This, too, is similar to Generations, as we saw Soran working with two traitorous Klingons in order to steal the trilithium needed to destroy entire suns.

Captain Kirk’s Appearance Was Much Different In The Scrapped Version

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Another (somewhat inevitable) similarity between Hurley’s Next Generation movie is that it featured Captain Picard interacting with Captain Kirk.  One of Rick Berman’s edicts was that this movie would effectively pass the baton from The Original Series crew to The Next Generation crew. As such, Captain Kirk was always destined to appear in the movie, though in Hurley’s script, he doesn’t appear in the flesh.

Hologram Kirk

In this unmade Next Generation movie, Picard realizes that Kirk was the only Starfleet captain to face a similar situation (way back in the classic episode “The Tholian Web”). He decides to recreate Kirk on the holodeck and ask him for advice, but he has to tweak the holodeck program so that Kirk can do more than serve as a fact-spouting, 24-century version of Wikipedia. 

This makes Kirk’s hologram more emotional and he even confronts Picard…a detail Hurley thought was important for a character that once confronted God in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

Hurley’s Next Generation Sounds Much Better

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The more we learn about it, the more we’d prefer to have Maurice Hurley’s Next Generation movie rather than Star Trek: Generations. Some of the surface-level details are similar, but we like that this film would have paid homage to a killer episode of The Original Series and managed to bring Kirk back without giving him not one but two silly onscreen deaths. It also had higher stakes, allowing Captain Picard and crew to save the entire universe in their cinematic debut.

The Downward Spiral Of Next Gen Movies

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Instead, we got Generations, a movie that threw all logic out the window so that we could have boring scenes such as Kirk on horseback jumping over a ravine. Considering how bad the subsequent Next Generation movies eventually got, “jumping the ravine” should really replace “jumping the shark” as a way for Star Trek fans to pinpoint when their favorite franchise started going downhill.