For me, the answer is neither. I have seen both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager all the way through. In my book TNG is a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars, whereas Voyager is a solid 5. Seriously, Voyager is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. That puts me in something of a minority as it seems that most people prefer TNG.
Voyager definitely had its down episodes for me. Like the one in Season One where Neelix forgives the scientist who created the weapon that destroyed his home. It was pretty obvious that this was supposed to be a commentary on the atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the writers knowledge of World War II politics was abysmally sub par and the parable didn't work at all. Then there was one my favorite episodes "Demon" where the crew gives their DNA to combine with biomimetic silver goo to create intelligent life on a Class Y planet. I absolutely loved this episode until "Course: Oblivion" came along and senselessly negated life on the Demon planet.
Over all though, I have LOVED Star Trek: Voyager and in no particular order are my reasons:
- Captain Janeway- Captain Janeway rocks. She is my favorite Star Fleet captain ever. This isn't just because she is a woman. She leads her crew with a firm, but loving hand. She cares deeply for them, with almost a maternal love, but never for a moment do you question who is responsible for Voyager. Captain Janeway ends up in a lot of tight spots, but she always takes an attitude of problem solving and finds a way out. Voyager isn't powered by its warp core so much as by sheer force of Capt. Janeway's will. She's a TV character, but she is an excellent example of good leadership. I always felt like Picard was kind of a flat character. It often felt like the producers wanted him to be too many things, and be all of them perfectly. They wanted him to be a starship captain, a scholar, a ladies' man, and a faithful lover and I don't feel like he ever did any of them very well. It's not that his character was badly written, it's just that he wasn't that well-written either. Let's face it, Janeway did more with fewer resources in the Star Trek universe than Picard ever did.
- Main characters who grow up- Personal growth, marriage and children were things that mostly happened to minor characters like Miles O'Brien and Keiko on TNG, though we must give credit for Worf bringing Alexander to live with him. Most of the TNG characters remained static, while most of Voyager's grew over the course of the series. Tom grows into a responsible family man, B'elanna begins to accept her Klingon side, the Doctor learns social skills, Seven embraces her emotional side, Harry becomes more sure of himself, Neelix stops behaving like a jealous teenager, and through it all, Janeway and Chakotay keep getting pushed to the limit over and over again as they shepherd their crew home. That's life.
- The crap hits the fan- Most of TNG's plots seemed to go like this: problem presents itself, Wesley or Data find a solution and save the day, everyone goes back to their quarters happy. On the other hand, Voyager's plots seemed to go something like this: problem presents itself, crew conferences about a solution, implements plan, plan fails or someone messes up big time, everyone heads back to the drawing board again, picks up the pieces as best they can and keep moving on towards Earth. And everyone gets a chance to mess up big time. Janeway left a guy to be preyed upon by interdimensional beings in order to get him to talk in the Equinox episodes, Seska made Chakotay look pretty naive and stupid a few times, B'elanna tried to change her baby's DNA, Tom got demoted to ensign, Harry was almost suckered into being killed for his DNA by the beautiful sirens of a Delta Quadrant planet, and the Doctor flips out over the death of a patient. And life goes on. I've made some pretty big mistakes in my life (which is why I am where I am in life), and it was refreshing for me to see this on a TV show.
News flash! Wesley Crusher is not needed to provide a solution to every problem!
So, TNG fans will disagree, but this is why Voyager is the starship for me. =)