If you're among the many fans who think Star Trek: Generations just didn't work, you're not alone. The film's writers agree with you.
Back in 1994, Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga were busy guys. They were not only working on the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but also simultaneously crafting the first motion picture to feature the Next Generation cast: Star Trek: Generations, which would unite Patrick Stewart's Capt. Jean-Luc Picard with William Shatner's legendary Capt. James T. Kirk. While the Next Generation finale, "All Good Things ...", was extremely well received, winning a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1995, Generations was ... not.
Sure, it sounds like a great concept for a movie: A time-jumping adventure that unites the past and present of Star Trek for one epic film. It was certainly intriguing enough to bring in a respectable box-office haul for the film, and its success meant we got more Next Generation films, but Generations just didn't quite land for more than a few Trek fans. In a very in-depth new Yahoo! interview celebrating the 20th anniversary of the broadcast of "All Good Things ...," Moore and Braga discussed the unexpected and hectic task of writing two hours of television and a two-hour film at the same time, which was made even more hectic by the fact that they'd assumed showrunner Michael Piller would be taking the finale writing job for himself.
"I don't even know why we were necessarily asked to write the finale, given that we were writing the movie at the same time," Braga said. "All I can say is we were much younger. It's hard to imagine doing that again. But we were very much into it, and we loved the show, and ironically, the finale turned out better than the movie, so… but it was hard to do. We were both working around the clock."
At the time they began writing "All Good Things ...," Moore and Braga had already been working on the Generations script for months. The screenplay process was a long one, but the teleplay process had to be short and sweet due to a tight production deadline. Somehow, though, the crunch of that deadline led to a finale that really clicked.
"The great irony of it all is, we spent a year on Generations, and 'All Good Things…,' we wrote in a month. We just plowed through it, banged it out. It did not go through radical changes in the drafts. There were production changes, as always, but it was basically what we wrote, pretty close to the first or second drafts. And it turned out beautifully. It was just one of those things where it all flowed and it all came together, and we were astonished by how much people liked it, how much we liked it, how great the final product was. It exceeded your expectations of what it could be," Moore said.
"And Generations was the opposite experience. Generations, we slaved over for a year; we worked it over and over and over again, and in the end it just fell short. And we were like, God… it was just such a depressing feeling of not being able to bring that one home. But we did have this other experience that was very unexpected and just clicked and became a wonderful piece."
So why did the Next Generation finale work out so well while the Generations movie didn't? It had the same talented writing team and a solid conceptual hook, so why was it such a letdown for so many? For Braga, it's actually a pretty simple answer: Add a second Trek generation to the same story, and things start to get muddy.
"Here's the problem: Generations was not a Next Generation film. First Contact was. Generations was a Kirk/Picard film. So there were many masters to serve on that movie," Braga said. "And quite frankly, I don't think it had a good concept driving it. The concept of the two captains sounded good, but they ended up scrambling eggs together… which isn't exactly the most riveting climax you can imagine. But the concept for 'All Good Things…' was far more, I felt, cinematic than the actual movie we made. And, as I have heard many people say, 'All Good Things…' would've made a good movie. And I think they're right. It's the better script. Because it's more pure."
So, if you really can't stand Generations, just know that its writers understand. That might be small consolation, but hey, at least we've got that great series finale.
Read the entire "All Good Things ..." retrospective (it's definitely worth it for Next Generation fans) HERE.