Posts Tagged ‘Captain Jean-Luc Picard’

Picard’s Wonderful Life

I know that there have been many spins on the themes of It’s A Wonderful Life and I revisited one of my favorites the other night.  In The Next Generation episode “Tapestry,” Captain Jean-Luc Picard lies in sickbay following a mortal wound sustained during a battle.  While clinging to life, the good captain is stands on the threshold to eternity where he is greeted by the wonderfully charismatic entity known as Q.  The nearly omnipotent character offers Jean-Luc a choice: spend eternity by his side or return to the past and relive a life defining moment.  If Jean-Luc changes the event, Q promises him that nothing earth-shattering will come of it.

The event centers around an incident involving the young, brash, devil-may-care Ensign Jean-Luc Picard and two of his fellow Starfleet Academy friends.  The trio is on starbase for one last hurrah before going their separate ways.  After a game of chance, Picard’s friend discovers that he has been cheated by a rather nasty Naussican and a bar fight ensues.  At the end of the fight, Jean-Luc is stabbed through the heart (a feeling he laughs at), requiring him to receive an artificial replacement.  Also involved is the relationship involving his female friend which may or may not be a regret.

Will Picard change the course of his life?  What will happen if he does?  Although he is “just not that important” to the universe as a whole, what changes will occur in his personal life?  Or will he simply be lead off to an eternity of what must be his own personal hell with Q?

Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Riix, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed

Perhaps the most enduring fixture in the world of Star Trek was Majel Barrett-Roddenberry.  She was in every incarnation of the universe.  She played the role of Number One in the original pilot entitled “The Cage.”  However, the role was scrapped when television censors first viewed the show as the role was too progressive for a woman (this was the mid 1960s after all).  When the series was relaunched, the wife of series creator Gene Roddenberry was given the part of Nurse Christene Chapel who had an unrequited attraction to a certain Vulcan first officer.  After the series ended, Mrs. Roddenberry would be heard in the animated series as Lt. M’ress as well as the voice of the computer in all future Star Trek series and later films including the new movie coming this summer.

However, my favorite role portrayed by the actress was as Lwaxana Troi who was the mother of Enterprise councellor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Mrs. Troi would make periodic appearances not only to the Enterprise but also on space station Deep Space Nine.  Part of the fun of this character was her hilarious flirtatious advances toward Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  Unfortunately for the captain, Lwaxana is a full telepath able to read the thoughts of others.

On December 18, 2008 Mrs. Roddenberry lost her short battle with leukemia a disease I know all too well this year.  May the great bird of the galaxy watch over her and those she left behind.  Total coincidence that two postings in a row have a common theme.

Whoopee for Whoopi

It is so funny how a simple fun evening with a group of friends can inspire thoughts to re-emerge in your head. I have gotten almost totally out of touch with Star Trek. Tonight, I was reminded that Academy Award winning actress Whoopi Goldberg was indeed a member of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation beginning in the series’ second season. Although she did not receive a screen credit, she also appeared in the movies Generations, First Contact, and Nemesis. Whoopi played the enigmatic hostess of the Enterprise’s lounge Ten Forward. Perhaps more than any other person to have a role on the phenomenon, her history goes back to the original series.

In 1967 following the premiere season of Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols opted not to return to the show. Her character of communications officer Lt. Uhura was not being developed to its full potential. Upon learning of her departure, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. approached Nichelle and told her that she must not leave the show. The role of Uhura was not only one of the rare good female characters on television but also one of the first important roles for a woman of color. During the shows three year run, Nichelle had the distinction of sharing the first interacial kiss on television. This was shared with William Shatner in the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren.”

Twenty years later, Whoopi approached Trek creator Gene Roddenberry about being on the new television series. She cited the incident between Ms. Nichols and Dr. King as the inspiration behind her fascination with the franchise.

The character of Guinan has always been clouded in mystery. Like any good bartender, she is a good listener. She is extremely long-lived and very little is known about her alien race, the El Aurian. However, Guinan does share some history with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) that has never been fully explained. Not even during the two-part episode in which members of the Enterprise crew travel back in time to the 19th century where they meet Mark Twain.

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