Thirty years ago today - April 13, 1987 - is a hugely important date in Star Trek history. That's the date marked on the final draft of the script for "Encounter at Farpoint," the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation, credited to D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry. The show had been in the works for months, with the official announcement made during a press conference on October 10, 1986, but the all-important "Encounter at Farpoint" script was finished on April 13, 1987.
Most fans know the history. Several familiar Star Trek: The Original Series figures played various roles in shepherding TNG to the screen, including, of course, Fontana and Roddenberry, as well as Robert Justman and David Gerrold, etc. The "Farpoint" teleplay at one point was to be an hour-long adventure (Roddenberry's choice), but the studio wanted a two-hour premiere - and won that argument. And so Roddenberry added the Q subplot. For the record, according to The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, Fontana penned the charming pass-the-torch scene between DeForest Kelley's McCoy and Brent Spiner's Data.
StarTrek.com chatted with Fontana back in 2013, and she shared an anecdote about getting involved with TNG and addressed the "Farpoint" pilot script's evolution. "I was interested when Roddenberry called me to say Paramount was interested in doing a new Star Trek series as an hour show," she recallsed "That was in late 1986. Gene asked me immediately to read all the materials that had been generated on it so far - by David Gerrold, Robert Justman and by him. I was intrigued and drawn into the process by Gene asking me to create a story that would be the pilot for the new series.
"That bobbled back and forth between being a two-hour or a one-hour with an additional hour of 'Previously on STAR TREK' material," Fontana continued. "I wound up writing an hour and a half script and Roddenberry rewrote it to include all the Q material. My story was about Farpoint and the mystery surrounding it."