I think it helped that you had this large, majestic craft in the Enterprise D and to see it fire on something just made it look even cooler. And then you had the futuristic refit from 'All Good Things', which in itself was an amazing hour and a half of science fiction, made all the better by hearing the lines "There's another ship decloaking. It's the Enterprise!" "We'll get their attention" *Blows up a battleship so hard it FLIES THROUGH WHERE IT WAS BECAUSE NO DEBRIS WAS LEFT*

I think one of the top YouTube comments highlights it best:
Riker: "I'll see if I can get the Klingons' attention. Helmsman, Riker Maneuver Alpha...y'know, a wicked upward spiral rollover 720 McTwist thingy. Weapons officer, arm forward murdercannon bank, set power to 'Rip Several New Assholes', and fire at will."
I think Robot Wars was a Friday? Can't believe I missed that in the previous posts. Lives on through the spirit of Spaced though. Anyhow, I agree with a lot of what you said regarding shaping TV preferences. That slot had a surprisingly great amount of high quality variety and I don't think I'd have gotten into Dr. Who if it weren't for that slot, or sci-fi in general for a long time and so on. It really was a time to look forward to.

I actually have this silly theory that Star Trek and Star Wars are sort of a beginning's guide to sci-fi. They show the core elements of what you can do with a completely different setting, with a variety of un/subtle concepts and items that can get you thinking. I look back at both of them now and find them a little hard to swallow, but I do know that TNG will forever stay with me. Maybe there's something akin to having 'a first Doctor' with Dr. Who that there is with Star Trek?