Palmer’s Trek, the unwatched frontier. These are the voyages of Agent Palmer. On his continuing mission: to explore Star Trek. To seek out its numerous series and movies. To boldly go where many fans have gone before!

Star Trek: Generations is the TOS/TNG crossover fans deserved

Star Trek: Generations, from 1994, is Star Trek: The Next Generation’s first entry into the movie theater for that series. It’s also the first Star Trek movie since Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, released in 1991.

To help the crew of the new Enterprise on their new adventure in a new medium are some of the original crew because, as it turns out, Generations is basically three episodes of Star Trek. It starts with an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, followed by an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and then the crossover everyone wanted between the two series.

The way it was handled, from the writing to what is seen on the screen, left me immensely impressed. A crossover, even within a franchise, is not an easy feat, but this one works and feels like a well-constructed handoff of the franchise cinematically to The Next Generation, literally.

But it’s not without some questions, as far as the movie is concerned. The first part of the movie revolves around Captain Kirk and some of the old crew members being present for the christening of a new ship. What is most odd is the abundance of the press corp, which didn’t seem to exist in the franchise for quite a while. Not only is there a press corp, they’re hungry for a story and in Kirk’s face. Krik handles it well, but the press is definitely not wanted on the bridge of the ship. It’s genuinely surprising for the audience since we’ve never really known much about the press within the Star Trek universe. 

Anyway, the ship flies out of space dock and all is smooth until The Nexus shows up as a temporal disturbance. The ship, which is not ready for action as everything specifically required to operate is comedically not ready until “Tuesday” is going to have to get dirty, even without its full complement of crew, supplies, and armament.

The “Tuesday” bit is a fun nod to J. Wellington Wimpy from Popeye, even if not many people now will get that reference either today or in 1994.

This part of the movie is a slow burn that feels more in line with the pacing of the Original Series movies, to the point where you almost forget that this is a new movie, with characters from The Next Generation. 

By the time tragedy strikes – this time it’s the disappearance of Captain Kirk – and we hard shift from this Original Series nostalgia trip to an ocean vessel called Enterprise where Worf is getting a promotion, I was still happily wondering if I had put on the wrong film. Thankfully, I hadn’t.

In The Next Generation part of the film, we learn more about the Nexus and meet Soran, who is arguably our film’s villain, and how the two interconnect. This part is a bit odd for me. I understand that when franchises make the jump from the small screen to the big one, lighting can change, but on the ship of the Enterprise, Picard and his crew look like they’re literally being left in the dark.

The writing at this point is fine, and it gets you through, as we basically see where this film is taking us – to the third and final episode of Star Trek that makes up this film. To recap, we started with a Captain Kirk adventure, then we had Picard come in and learn all there is to know about what is going on, and now for the third and final episode, the crossover, Kirk and Picard are together at last!

This is where this film was meant to lead. It’s probably what people at the time were clamoring to see, and from this side of the millennium, it doesn’t disappoint. Thirty years later, I still think that this may be the most authentic fan service film I’ve watched in recent memory.

The plot and story are designed to place Captain Kirk and Captain Picard in the same time and space, working together to save the world. This isn’t any more shoehorned or forced into the plot and story than anything else I’ve seen so far in this franchise. Because it’s a simple premise, it makes the idea of a space-time continuum Nexus of ecstasy all the easier to digest, even though you can philosophically debate what all that means, should you choose to. 

I would like to mention, unlike Picard’s dark shots on his Enterprise, in his ready room and in his hallways, there is an Original Series home-field advantage in the environment. That’s because the third act takes place in the forest, on horseback, in the plains, in a log cabin, and in the desert, all shot much more naturally.

As the two characters spend more time together, I had this moment watching where I was like, “This is what a good crossover can be. It’s not forced, it’s not too over the top, and it’s just right.” However, it’s not a perfect crossover. 

It’s weak if you look at it as anything more than the two captains pairing up. If I were to look at it like a true crossover, I’m sort of disappointed that we didn’t also get more Scotty and Geordi or Chekov and Worf or Crusher. Still, as team-ups go, Kirk and Picard were wonderful, despite the writing making sure that in this passing of the baton from one television captain to the movie rookie, Kirk gets ALL of the best lines. 

It’s not that he shouldn’t have gotten most. He deserves to be remembered well because I’m assuming it’s the last time he’s on the big screen as Kirk, but they should have given Picard a little more than Kirk’s scraps!

Yet, Picard is in a bit of awe in the presence of Kirk, whom he’s no doubt read about, and so we do get this beautiful moment:

KIRK: You know, maybe this is less about an empty house than that empty chair on the bridge of the Enterprise. Ever since I left Starfleet I haven’t made a difference. …Captain of the Enterprise, huh?
PICARD: That’s right.
KIRK: Close to retirement?
PICARD: I’m not planning on it.
KIRK: Let me tell you something. Don’t! Don’t let them promote you. Don’t let them transfer you. Don’t let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you’re there, you can make a difference.
PICARD: Come back with me. Help me stop Soran. Make a difference again.
KIRK: Who am I to argue with the Captain of the Enterprise? …What’s the name of that planet, …Veridian Three?
KIRK: I take it the odds are against us, and the situation is grim?
PICARD: You could say that.
KIRK: You know if Spock were here, he’d say I was an irrational, illogical human being for taking on a mission like that… Sounds like fun.

Again, this film may be the greatest crossover team-up within a franchise I have ever seen. It’s “fan service” without being fan service. It’s a two-hour movie that plays like three episodes of Star Trek. What more could one ask for?

I enjoyed it, and I’m ready to boldly go with Captain Picard from here onward because as a one last final send-off, this seems like the best way to honor and end the cinematic exploits of Captain Kirk.

Up next, Star Trek: First Contact.