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The series involves a starship named Enterprise and is set in the nearby regions of the Milky Way galaxy, the Alpha Quadrant. The first episode takes place in the year 2364, 100 years after the start of the five-year mission described in the original series, which began in 2264. It features a new cast and a new starship Enterprise, the fifth to bear the name within the franchise's storyline. An introductory statement, performed by Patrick Stewart and featured at the beginning of each episode's title sequence, stated the starship's purpose in language similar to the opening statement of the original series, but was updated to reflect an ongoing mission, and to be gender-neutral: Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before. TNG premiered the week of September 28, 1987, drawing 27 million viewers, with the two-hour pilot "Encounter at Farpoint". In total, 176 episodes were made, ending with the two-hour finale "All Good Things..." the week of May 23, 1994. The series (198794) was broadcast in first-run syndication with dates and times varying among individual television stations. Three additional Star Trek spin-offs followed The Next Generation: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (199399), Star Trek: Voyager (19952001), and Star Trek: Enterprise (20012005). The series formed the basis for the seventh through to the tenth of the Star Trek films, and is also the setting of numerous novels, comic books, and video games. In its seventh season, Star Trek: The Next Generation became the first and only syndicated television series to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. The series received a number of accolades including 19 Emmy Awards, two Hugo Awards, five Saturn Awards, and a Peabody Award.

Brannon Braga and Jeri Taylor joined the show in its fourth season. The fourth season surpassed the Original Series in series length with the production of "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". A new alien race, the Cardassians, made their first appearance in "The Wounded". They later went on to be featured in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The season finale, "Redemption", was the 100th episode, and the cast and crew (including creator Gene Roddenberry) celebrated the historic milestone on the bridge set. Footage of this was seen in the Star Trek 25th-anniversary special hosted by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy which aired later in the year. Seven fourth-season episodes were nominated for eight Emmys. "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" won for both Outstanding Sound Editing in a Series and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Series. Character Wesley Crusher left the series in Season 4 to go to Starfleet Academy. "Family" was the only Star Trek episode not to have a bridge scene during the entire episode and is the only TNG episode where Lt. Commander Data does not appear on-screen.

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