They said it wouldn’t last (and if you’ve seen some of the first season episodes, you’d believe that sentiment). They said it couldn’t overshadow its predecessor (even though some of the same creators that worked on the original series were involved in the production). Despite the fuss from certain hardcore fans and the somewhat lukewarm critical response, when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted on this date in 1987 with the episode “Encounter at Farpoint”, it was an instant ratings smash that not only introduced a crop of new fans to the Star Trek phenomenon, but also gave longtime Trekkies new stories and characters to enjoy…or, at least during the first couple of seasons, tolerate.
In 1988, amid the show’s wave of success, a Seattle independent filmmaker and science fiction fan, Ryan K. Johnson, released his satirical tribute to TNG entitled Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation. Johnson’s 15-minute short film is a near-perfect encapsulation of what didn’t work in the show’s early years, from the cranky Captain Picard, the tiresome antics of Wesley Crusher and the occasional rehashing of plots from the original show. The Pepsi Generation serves as a effective reminder of the growing pains that TNG went through before becoming one of the most beloved sci-fi programs on television.