Nisid Hajari
September 25, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In the 24th century, the crew of the good ship Enterprise may seem like one big, happy space family. Off the bridge, however, Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s ensemble of actors disagree about at least one thing: how to present the popular syndicated TV series on video.

A problem whenever transferring a TV show to videocassette is pacing — that is, how to smooth over the program’s ubiquitous commercial breaks. Patrick Stewart’s solution would be to bypass the issue altogether. ”I feel we should have thought about filming something like unbroken stories,” he says. ”We should shoot the version that’s going to be shown with commercials, and then another version which would just be a cut at the start of the next scene.”

But, with a most un-android-like mischievousness, Brent Spiner (Commander Data) diverges from his ostensible leader. ”I just watched an Ed Sullivan Show from 1955,” he counters, ”and it had all the commercials in it. I couldn’t have been happier, because there were these 1955 Buicks they were trying to sell. It was fabulous.”

Ever the purist, Shakespearean stage veteran Stewart goes so far as to view the program — 18 tapes of which have been released so far by Paramount Home Video — as an organic, still growing whole. ”I’ve always felt that we aren’t doing a series of single episodes but that we’re in the process of doing a play — of which, so far, we’ve done 128 acts. Everything won’t be in place until we say ‘cut’ in the final scene of the last day of the series.”

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