When he had a second shot at creating what he thought “Star Trek” really could be, Gene Roddenberry and his team of writers and producers created “The Next Generation,” which many argue is superior to “The Original Series.”
The reasons are numerous. Some point to the “bad” episodes like “The Way To Eden,” which has not aged well since the 60s. Others push back, saying that those episodes capture the cultural “zeitgeist” of the era.
Fans of TNG say that the acting was better, the series lasted longer, and the plots varied from the “planet of the week” formula. But thanks to the Kevin Timeline films, TOS towers over TNG as what is remembered in the memory of popular culture.
Wayne liked TNG Better
Even Wayne (Mike Myers) of the “Wayne’s World” movies said that TNG was superior but would never be as recognized as the original.
One of those episodes that TNG fans say set their series apart was “The Inner Light.” The episode aired in June of 1992 in the United States and featured a time and space travel story unlike any in the franchise’s history.
“The Inner Light”
Written by Morgan Gendel and Peter Allan Fields, the story followed the life of Picard (Patrick Stewart) as he lived in another man’s body on an alien world. All the while, the Enterprise crew is puzzled as to what is happening to their captain. Picard’s human body lay motionless on the bridge, while his “soul” was living the life of Kamin on the planet Kataan.
Through this other life, Picard practices playing a flute. This tune he works on throughout his life as Kamin is brought back to the Enterprise when he returns to his everyday life.
As noted before — there are no bad guys, no phasers, and no struggles with any alien foes. It is a story about appreciating a simple life and the battle for Picard to understand those connections. It is also the episode where Patrick Stewart’s son, Daniel, acts in a guest role.
“The Inner Light” won both an Emmy and a Hugo Award in 1993 and has been hailed ever since as one of the very best episodes of TNG. The Wrap recently called it a “magnum opus” of Trek, while Nerdist called it “TNG’s Best Episode.” Virginia Tech’s Dr. Leigh McKagen said that “Inner Light” proved that Trek could be a story without “imperialism” at its core.
“The Inner Light” is so well thought of that even Patrick Stewart himself said that it is his favorite episode of the series.
“Because I was given the chance to perform what Picard would have been like if his life experience had been different,” Stewart said, according to Showbiz Cheatsheet. “But another important reason is that I had a son in that episode who was played by my son, Daniel Stewart.”
And now the small prop which held the episode together, the Ressikan flute in which Picard played on screen, has just sold at auction for $190,000.
In an auction held today by the Prop Store Ultimate Collectables in Los Angeles, a lucky bidder won the flute. On the auction page, Prop Store wrote that the prop “itself is one of the most memorable and important props from the show, and it was toured around the U.S. prior to being sold in a previous auction.”
As Seen On “Lessons”
The winner also received a collectible box, the script for “The Inner Light,” and behind-the-scenes costume continuity photographs. This prop was also used on the episode “Lessons,” in which the hands of musician Bryce Martin were used instead of Stewart’s. This gave the illusion that Stewart was actually playing the Ressikan flute — which he was not.
Finally, the prop is just that — a prop. It cannot be played, but one must imagine that this will be a beloved part of someone’s “Star Trek” collection for years. If fans are really interested, they can purchase a replica of the flute for their own Trek shelves.