It’s time to go in-depth with the main characters (except Worf, who wasn’t created at the time). I don’t think they were cast yet but I do think this is the final version of them going into the show. It’s possible there’s a later guide for season one but I don’t think they’d want to confuse incoming writers and directors with more tweaking. They have to get the plots approved and scripts made.
Still, it should be interesting to see what part of their characters actually appeared on the show. It was one of the fun parts of doing the Batman: The Animated Series story bible years ago and this should be the same here. In this installment we’re looking at the two most senior officers: Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his “Number One” officer, Commander William T. Riker. Looking through I think we’ll be doing two characters an installment and these are naturally right on top. So what were the intended depictions and how much of it ended up on the show?
We’re going to start with Picard because he’s first in the list. The guide says he’s more experienced than any captain we’ve seen in the past. Like Kirk, Sulu in the later movies, or are we also counting guest captains? It’s not like we have a lot go on here. But the season one guide does say he was on the USS Stargazer, which actually factors into an episode of the show. So it’s nice to see that was actually taken from the guide.
Born in Paris, France, Picard betrays a gallic accent only when deep emotions are triggers.
I guess someone forgot to tell Patrick Stewart that. I don’t remember him ever dropping into a French accent although occasionally his British one came through. The guide also says that nobody uses accents anymore, and that must be recent in the century or Chekhov was just old-fashioned. Speaking of Pavel, he and Jean-Luc have something in common. Loyalty to a region that probably isn’t a country anymore given the whole “every planet has one central government” norm on any Star Trek show.
In discussions with friends, he pretends to believe that France represents “the only true civilization” to appear on Earth–and it delights him when a witty companion wants to prove the same for England, Italy, or China.
I don’t remember this ever coming up. Heck, I don’t even think I knew he was French outside of his last name (which is only heritage) until he got de-Borged and went home to shake it off. I’ve never heard him square off with others about the superiority of France as a civilization. At least Pavel really did have tunnel-vision for Russia. The guide then calls Picard a “romantic”, which I barely remember from the show at all, never mind season one, but it does keep his sense of duty and honor, within reason when it comes to protecting his ship and crew.
UPDATE AFTER POSTING: I’ve been going through some of SF Debris’ season one TNG episodes, most notably “Code Of Honor”, where Data calls French essentially a dead language and Picard gets mad, and as I write this I’m listening to a review of “The Last Outpost”, where Picard notes that France put red, white, and blue in the “right” order and the US the wrong way. So I guess this stupidity actually was there. It just wasn’t as overt as Checkov’s.
Captain Picard has his share of idiosyncrasies, one being the fact he is not yet fully comfortable with having families and children aboard a vessel he commands. With the Enterprise being the first Starfleet vessel of this class, Picard supports its concept cautiously, while having his own private misgivings.
Here’s something that wasn’t tossed out but was altered by the time the show got underway. He never showed concerns about families beyond maybe a line I don’t remember, but he did have a problem connecting to children. That was usually fun to watch, as Picard had to deal with children but obviously wasn’t comfortable with it. I believe this was explained in the Generations movie as at least being partly due to his wondering if he missed the starship by not having a wife and kids of his own.
Oh, and you want to know if one of your romantic ships is canon? It’s spelled out at least when we get to Picard’s interactions with Wesley. No, that isn’t the ship I mean…at least I hope it’s not the ship I meant, especially in season one. No, that was going to be Wesley and Tasha, remember?
He has not had much experience dealing with children and is not quite certain how to deal with you Wes Crusher’s precocious intelligence; but he has noticed the attractiveness of young Wes’s mother and this too has influence his feelings on the subject.
So if you ever wondered why Wesley was allowed in the crew-only areas of the ship like the bridge and engineering without complaint and assumed he was trying to get into Beverly’s sweater…turns out you were right. The next paragraph tries to make this a bit more tolerable (I’ll jump ahead and note Beverly Crusher was planned to be in her late thirties or early forties while Picard was in his fifties) by saying in the future this wasn’t a big deal. How old was Roddenberry at this time?
Women of the 24th century consider a man in his early fifties like Picard has having just entered his best years. Active duty Starfleet males (and females, for that matter) have the double attractiveness of being in prime physical condition usually through their seventies, and being more aware most humans of the rich variety of personal relationships.
Typos aside (and yes, I made sure I wrote it right as it appears in the guide) I have to wonder if someone was going through a mid-life crisis or wanting to make their relationship with a younger woman look less creepy? Personally it’s all a number up to a point and 40/50 is certainly no big deal but it seems like they were trying to defend something. The guide then states that, like Kirk, Picard’s first love is his ship but he’s learning that a little romance isn’t such a bad thing. But then how is he a “romantic” if he wasn’t into romance until he was around all these families on this ship? Then again, Patrick Stewart did win a “sexiest man alive” award from I think Time Magazine and it would explain his desire to be more action hero in the later movies.
From here we move on to First Officer Will Riker, but the first half of his profile is more concerned with the duties of a first officer than the Riker character. Not that this isn’t fascinating to go over or important mind you, but I would think that would belong somewhere in one of the earlier sections on the crew, the ship, and ship life. It starts off by saying only the crew call him “Number One”, although I don’t remember anyone other than Picard calling him that. The Captain may call him Will in private moments according to the guide, but that was a bit more common with his friends. I don’t recall any woman calling him “Bill” like the guide says. He’s also intended to be thirty years old before going into the history of the name Number One (a variant of “First Lieutenant” noting “executive officer and captain-in-training”) and his duties on board.
In those same ancient days, ship’s Number One was also usually in command of shore parties (the life of a ship captain is rarely considered expendable), and that remains the same today in the 24th century where our Number One takes over the risk of acting as mission commander on planet landings and other away missions. The Captain’s concern is generally strategic while the First Officer’s is usually tactical, with Number One exercising command over away teams and activities. Of course the starship captain retains overall command of all missions.
That’s one of the differences between Kirk and Picard. Picard is more like a regular captain, not so much staying safe during planetary missions as not risking the man in charge. He still plots strategy and will come down in person when necessary but it’s more important to the chain of command and he might be needed aboard ship, especially if something happens to the ship. It’s easier to make decisions down there than up here and Riker has proven his worth to lead a mission without outright defying his captain. It’s also his job to keep the ship-shape, supposedly what he “half-humorously” calls “housekeeping duties”, but that may be more for the writers to figure out how he considers his job versus something we outright see. Finally, one page later we get something about the character. Picard didn’t even have two pages of profile and he’s the captain.
I’ve seen the Picard/Riker relationship referred to as “father/son”, even in that I/O9 article from the earlier link that looked at an earlier draft of the guide. But this version describes more as Riker seeing Picard as an older brother to emulate. It also says that he takes on the away missions not because he doesn’t think Picard couldn’t handle it but because Picard’s “vast knowledge” is more needed on the Enterprise, which comes back to Picard being more of a strategist and Riker a tactician. Picard comes up with the plan and Riker adjusts as necessary based on what’s going on. It’s actually a good arrangement.
From there the guide talks about “Bill’s” activities with the ladies. Despite the talk earlier about how men in their 50s are now considered super sexy and virile and totally sought after by younger women, it’s Riker who was the one taking over for Kirk in the lady-chasing department. But the guide makes sure to note that it doesn’t interfere with his duty…unless he’s playing brainwashing video games of course. And he’s all about sexual equality…which I would think at least for Earth at this point would be normal in Roddenberry’s Star Trek Universe…although there are doubts if Gene himself lived up to that but that’s a whole other argument.
The whole truth is, however, he is still young and hasn’t yet lived enough to understand how completely different the two sexes can be. He’s not fully aware that human females have needs of their own. For example, Riker doesn’t yet fully appreciate of the female need to be needed.
There’s something you won’t see in a 2018 story: women have different needs than men do. And you don’t think men need to be needed too? In the sitcom Reba it was given as a reason her character’s husband cheated on her and divorced her to marry the other woman, and it does happen in the real world as well. I don’t think that’s exclusively female. And of course you can’t talk about Riker and the ladies without talking about Deanna Troi.
This helps the fact that the ship’s lovely Betazed Counselor can enjoy his sterling youthful qualities without ever falling hopelessly in love with him.
More on that when we discuss her profile, but keep it in mind. Also keep in mind how he reacts to Data. It seems odd that he gets a relationship match when nobody else excepts Picard and Troi do. Troi is his ex and Picard is his superior so those at least make sense, but Data?
Riker also has some difficulty in accepting Lt. Commander Data as a crewman equal. A very interesting aspect of this is the fact that Data has needs not unlike that of a female crewperson–in other words, Data needs very much to be needed. He wants more than just “handy to have around” because of some set of abilities but to be personally needed for his own qualities. In short, Data needs Riker to like him too. In upcoming episodes, we’ll watch an efficient working relationship grow between the two and finally become friendship.
For those of you ready to comment that the fanshipping is about to begin…like it hasn’t happened already…don’t bother. That’s not what they mean. And really, outside of the one scene on the holodeck in the pilot I’ve not really seen this aspect of their association. Even then it was more like Riker being curious about Data’s desire to be human and fascinated by his skills. He never really treated him as anything other than a member of the crew after that one scene that I can recall.
This is a good place to stop and a good segue into our next installment since Data and Deanna are the profiles we’ll be seeing next time.