Today, we find televisions shows to be more often than not one-dimensional, and with good cause: the majority of people love one-dimensional television shows that often do not raise cerebral themes nor query the mind to life's deeper questions. The proof behind this theory lies within the usual top 10 shows here at tv.com, but I digress from this point. The main point is that Star Trek: The Next Generation is a show that is for the intelligent viewer, and shows like this do not exist in prominence anymore Themes such as humanity's purpose, galactic politics (which of course draw upon and translate to the politics of the world today), and the discovery of the unknown permeate throughout this series from episode one to episode 176.
The Next Generation follows the 24th century crew on board the Starship Enterprise D captained by Jean-luc Picard. Joining him on his discovery of the galaxy are Will Riker, Data, Worf, Geordi LaForge, Deanna Troi, Beverly Crusher, and Wesley Crusher. Each character has a unique and integral background within the show, and they help us relate to the show with various allusions to people we know and understand. Picard draws upon the persona of a French philosophe of the Enlightenment (Picard is French after all). He has a strict set of high morals which do not falter throughout the series (let's not talk about the movies) and always relies on them to make the correct, well thought-out judgments. Picard is a natural-born leader as well for he radiates self-confidence and intellect. Picard is joined by his first Commander Will Riker. Riker evolves in the series from a young and eager star fleet officer to a smart, wise, and mature "Number 1" as Picard refers to him as. We find Riker to be very cunning in his tactics not only as a commander, but also with the ladies. Many of us headstrong males can relate well to Riker in these regards. Lieutenant-Commander Data is perhaps the most interesting character in that he is an Android possessing amazing powers who would trade them all for the flaws of humanity. The security chief Lieutenant-Commander Worf is the first Klingon serving in Star Fleet, and there are times we find him having to fight his natural tendencies as a Klingon when he needs to conform to Star Fleet standards, but having been raised by humans, Worf is able to keep himself in check. Geordi LaForge runs engineering as a blind man yet with a sight-enhancing visor which allows him in some respects to see more than even the average person can. He is an every-man who always gets the job done and exceeds expectations. Deanna Troi is a half Betazoid who utilizes her gifts as the ships counselor. She understands the emotions of people so well, and sometimes I imagine myself wanting to talk to her about my meager problems. Doctor Beverly Crusher is an inquisitive and moral doctor (quite similar to Picard in some respects), and is open to new ideas in the world of medicine and even beyond in the scientific community. She is joined by her son, Wesley Crusher who is a genius comparable to Mozart-as stated in the show. His gifts serve the crew of the Enterprise in various creative ways.
Throughout the show, this unique crew chemically reacts with each other to form a new substance: that of efficiency, discovery, and righteousness. We leave this show knowing and loving this crew individually and as a whole. The genius of the show and many other shows is creating this bond with the audience and characters. Beyond that, Star Trek makes us think inwardly after we watch the show, something few shows do. The themes are very deep, even spiritual. I encourage each and every person to watch and think big about what you see. I leave you with this quote, "The human race is a remarkable creature, one with great potential, and I hope Star Trek has helped to show us what we can be if we believe in ourselves and our abilities." Gene Roddenberry, author and creator of Star Trek.