|"Hello? Yes, I'd love to hear|
about AT&T Uverse."
Contrast this first scene with the last scene of Star Trek: Nemesis, which is the very last Star Trek movie starring the TNG cast. The last two characters we see--again--are Picard and a now defunct Data. The series begins with Data's quest for his humanity and ends with his death.
(The series also begins with Picard walking down a hallway contemplating his new ship and mission with a scowl on his face. It ends with Picard walking down a hallway contemplating his life, smiling).*
If you were a child of the eighties or the early nineties (when TNG reruns still ruled the air) you can remember at least one scene from The Next Generation. That scene will always involve Data. In the episode Phantasms he starts dreaming. Everyone remembers this episode because there were two guys taking pick axes to the Enterprise.
Everyone remembers the episode where Data got a girlfriend (it was really an allegory for gays in the military, apparently). Everyone remembers the episode where Data got a daughter. Everyone remembers the episode where Data gets a brother; when he is then betrayed by his brother. Everyone remembers Data's freakin' emotion chip.
Mostly all the pivotal episodes of TNG revolve around Data. Including the one where Picard is abducted and assimilated by the Borg. What's Data doing in that episode? His roll isn't big, but in the original version of the script it called for Data and Picard to become one being. Which would, you know, have been a big deal.
(The Borg later abduct Data in First Contact and try to convince him to join them).
The thing I've always appreciated about TNG has been its ability to comfort me when I'm down. The idea that I can throw on an episode and listen to it in the background, or watch it again and again. It's always been there for me. The parts that have always made me smile were the parts with our pale android friend.
Data doesn't quip, it's his lack of understanding that leads to comic relief on the show. And Data is the only comic relief on the show for many seasons. It's odd that an android--that is void of emotion--is the chosen vessel for this plot element.
If Data were not on the screen we would not get the message TNG is trying to convey. That humanity might be out there exploring the stars, but really, we're just trying to find out who--and what--we are.
*Throughout the years the show was on Picard goes from smiling once a season to every episode.