>So I've been watching TNG for the first time after avoiding it my entire life due to being a big TOS fan and thinking it was too different to enjoy. But I gave it a chance and I've been liking it.
>a lot of people said season 1 is very bad and it's hit or miss
It isn't bad as per se, but it isn't as good as TNG is when it hits its stride in 3rd season onwards.
>I like that Riker is becoming his own character and not just a stand in for Kirk.
While he may have started as back up Kirk if Picard as character doesn't work for fans, he is certainly his own character. For me definitive Riker episodes are "second chances" and "pegasus". As side note, both of those episodes were directed by Levar Burton.
To go about Ferengi. They failed as antagonists, so they became something quite different towards the end of TNG and in DS9.
>Is drug and alcohol use ever elaborated on for people on earth?
Not much. Well, when it comes to Enterprise-D. The person bringing contraband on the ship is none other than captain Picard. Data gives Scotty bottle of Aldebaran whisky in ten forward, turns out Picard himself got it for Guinan. Only bottle with real alcohol in bar. It is green. In VOY episode "Non Sequitur" alt reality Tom Paris drunk as fuck in Marseile after fucking up his chance for salvation on Voyager. Episode also includes one the funniest dialogues from Harry Kim.
>"Where are you going?"
>"I've got to see Paris."
>"But you just said you were going to Marseille."
> But I'm surprised there aren't just people with replicators on earth that are bored and drink all day to pass the time.
We don't know much about what happens outside of starfleet, but implication is that majority of population has something better to do than dull their senses with booze or drugs. Striving to improve themselves or something. When it comes Picard and his family, they were luddites that had a rather neat chateau and produced champagne.