I’m going to weird you all out now.
Who is the best Star Trek Captain?
I grew up watching Star Trek reruns and then the new series, The Next Generation. I was wowed by the different and much-improved production quality of TNG compared to the original, and I also remember things I hated about it, like whiny Wil Weaton, Whoopi Goldberg, and that stupid episode when the command staff were turned into prepubescent children. That one was dumb.
But I always preferred Picard to Kirk.
Kirk is the derring-do captain, who thinks with his emotions and attractions. Kirk would launch a fist before a handshake, and that wins him many fans. I liken him to the swashbuckling of the early stages of any group, particularly in the military. Until the rules are ironed out, it’s a lot easier to ask forgiveness. I had that experience too, in a job I was literally making up as I went because no one had done it before. It is a great privilege but also a great responsibility, because the rules will be made based on your own actions.
Picard is the result of everyone reacting to Kirk. There’s a lot more bureaucracy and red tape. There are procedures that must be adhered to, and you sure can’t start a one night stand with any green chick who is scantily clad. The best part is that Picard is a strong captain in spite of all the red tape and strong because he’s based in principles and not emotions or politics. He’s a fighter, a philosopher warrior even, who devoted his life to his career and had few regrets because of the higher purpose that he saw. And violence, if necessary, but never a first option.
I have rewatched all seven seasons of TNG, remembering happy times with my dad and family, but also able to dig in to some of the episodes that I couldn’t before. The exploration of humanity, in TNG, is touched on at all points of the show. Life is held as paramount and the ultimate good. Any intelligent life form is respected, even the ones that aren’t fully formed! Yes, I am talking about abortion, and euthanasia, and suicide! It’s incredible that the show constantly doesn’t place the value of persons on what they can do, but who they ARE! I know it’s a cheesy sci fi show, but that focus is one of the reasons people liked it so much. The new stuff is crap, using politics and trends to beat a message across but TNG wasn’t afraid to ask a hard question and leave the audience with something to think about, not answering one way or another. That kind of philosophical show, man, you can’t make that anymore!
Picard is the focal point of all of it, enabling the crew to explore concepts of friendship beyond coworkers, to understand the value and importance of life, of the importance of Truth, integrity, loss, understanding, growth, and on. I didn’t see that same development in any other series. Yes, at times it is cheesy, but at times so rich.
The episode Darmok is one such. Without spoiling it, the bond that forms between two people is incredibly deep, and based on mythology. The episode ends with a reference to Homer, and understanding our own past so that we can grow into the future. Haven’t I said it for a million times, history matters! Not to get stuck in it, by limiting yourself to being only the result of those that came before you, but to LEARN from it and grow!!! And this comes in a cheesy sci fi show!!!
The funny part is that TNG touched on so many issues that we are dealing with now. Genetic editing, racial discrimination, class prejudice, personal responsibility, integrity, euthanasia, and on and on. And in each case back then, the choice was difficult but correct. The writing on such a show, and the way it was acted out, make all the difference. I feel stupid for relating to old TV shows, but art imitates life, and the lessons are worth learning. I’ll leave with an assortment of deep quotes delivered by Picard.
PS. Stewart is an atheist, which I always find weird. How can someone act a role yet remain indifferent to it? Like the case of Song of Bernadette, the lead actors went on to live… Well, debauched lives, not being influenced by the story they helped tell. So with Stewart, and the irony is that he is ignoring the lessons that his character is begging us to learn. Irony indeed.