Jonah, as for your discovery of your distaste for Star Trek: The Next Generation, let’s face it, the show was a conservative’s nightmare unless, maybe, you’re Ron Paul. It’s a cliche by now to say that the original was an exemplar — maybe the most long-lasting cultural exemplar — of Kennedy-style liberal internationalism. But what we were asked to believe in the years of Star Trek: The Next Generation was that the Vietnam Syndrome lasted well into the 24th Century. It wasn’t just that Jean-Luc Picard didn’t have any hair on his head. It was also that he didn’t have any gonads. The great distinction between the first Trek and the second was that Kirk fired off weapons constantly and Picard tiptoed around, terrified of his own shadow. He was more willing to blow himself and his crew up than to do anything to interfere with anybody. On the original Trek, the Prime Directive — don’t change the course of other civilizations — was made to be broken, kind of like directives from the U.N. Human Rights Commission when it’s chaired by Sudan.
The only real thing ST:TNG had going for it was that Patrick Stewart was undoubtedly the finest actor (wth the exception of Alec Guinness in Star Wars and Ralph Richardson in Rollerball) ever to trod the boards in science fiction, where the acting was historically at DeForest Kelley levels. Now it’s entirely common for an Ian McKellen to play a mutant, but what we saw in TNG was Stewart delivering an acting clinic to 12 year-old fanboys who might otherwise have argued that William Shatner, delightful though he is, is a good actor rather than a psychotic scenery-chewer.
And another thing: Why wasn’t the National Gay Rights Task Force all in TNG’s face about the fact that the monstrous omnipotent being Q was basically Paul Lynde in Spandex?