It’s time to complete our look at the cast for season one according to the writer’s guide. Every ship has a ship’s doctor, and when you have people constantly going head-first into danger you want him or her to be an important part of your cast. Star Trek: The Next Generation had two, the rather unlikable Dr. Pulaski and very well liked Dr. Beverly Crusher. Thankfully we’re talking about the latter tonight. Doctor Crusher so important that part of her profile is in her son’s profile.
To showcase the new family dynamic on our ship of focus and how kids of the future are educated and treated she brought her son. Wesley Crusher is supposed to be a fifteen-year-old supergenius, who later turns out to be worthy of becoming the apprentice to The Traveler, imagine if a rather different Doctor didn’t have a TARDIS but just warped around everywhere. Does he still qualify as a Companion? Fans hate Wesley. Even Wil Weaton, the guy who played him, hates Wesley. But is that the fault of the writers or was he doomed from the start? With the season one writer and director’s guide I hope to answer that question and a few others.
Beverly’s profile starts of by saying she’s such a good doctor that she only does the diagnostic to confirm she’s right. I don’t think they intended that to come out as it sounds but there is a bit of arrogance, which not a surprise for season one of TNG. But she’s a TV doctor and being one of the best ever genius doctors is nothing new in medical shows. I’m also sure plenty of doctors in the real world are also just really that good. So I’m not bothered by it, just the way it came off. The next paragraph however really doesn’t do her any favors as a member of the female gender.
That she also happens to be a beautiful woman in her late thirties or early forties is an additional asset. Her wit and intelligence (and very female form) has not escaped the Captain’s eye either.
Geez, the slashfic is less subtle. It’s almost like the guide itself is sexually harassing her. Then again EVERY female has been the height of sexy and occasionally even sexual. Sadly we’ll come back to that last one. You can almost hear it being this guy talking about looks being one of her “assets”.
Yes, I had attractive doctors and nurses during my various medical issues over the years. That wasn’t the thing that interested me at the time. Mostly because I have zero sex drive when I’m sick and it’s tough to flirt with a cute nurse with a tube up your nose and I’ll stop there in case you’re eating right now. My point is, I don’t have a problem with the guide saying she’s supposed to be beautiful (and Gates McFadden is) but don’t act like that’s part of why she’s a good doctor.
Beverly’s husband, Jack Crusher, was killed while serving on the U.S.S. Stargazer with Captain Picard. Beverly still has a sense that Jack’s death was somehow Picard’s fault. She knows that it is not logical to blame Picard, but he is also identified with the event in her mind and it was such a loss that she still has trouble dealing with Picard.
Apparently this idea was dropped extremely fast. While I don’t remember just when Jack’s name was finally given in the show, the idea that she blames Picard never materialized. If anything, according to her attitude in “The Naked Now” she actually shares Picard’s attraction, which is the only time the slashfic writers were apparently right and the idea slashfic writers could be right scares me. It might have been an interesting plot (because that episode being interesting overall is nearly impossible) had Picard been fighting an urge to put her on the couch of the ready room while Beverly was fighting the urge to wring his neck. I’m betting Gene 86ed the idea given his insistence that there be no conflict between the crew and by the time he was kicked upstairs the unrequited chemistry between them had already been accepted as canon.
As to why she would be on this ship if she supposedly wants to shove the Captain out the nearest airlock, it’s not about proving her theory right, which would be in keeping with how she approaches medicine as we saw. Instead she just wanted the plum assignment she earned and to find a good place for her starship-loving son to live his dream. It does note that medical leave is the only way to relieve a captain besides a full court-martial but falls just short of saying that it’s another reason she’s there, to ensure what happened to Jack doesn’t happen to someone else even if she knows deep down that it’s not his fault. It’s a complexity that we never saw happen.
But we’ll come back to her in a moment. At this point the guide shifts into Wesley’s profile, although for some reason it does go back to Beverly near the end. Okay, so what did they play for young Mr. Crusher?
A four foot ten inch, fifteen-year-old boy. Several centuries previous he might have been one of the young computer wizards who were introducing computers to a puzzled world…
Let’s be honest, some Hollywood writers are still puzzled how computers work beyond writing software.
…but here on this starship he begins as the son (sole family) of Beverly Crusher, the Enterprise‘s chief medical officer.
Wes has inherited the genius of both of his parents. This is apparent in his superior memory and his insight into the mechanics of computer circuitry and starship warp engines. He not only sees how all the different parts of a mechanism work together (and sometimes why they don’t)–he also senses the alternate ways the same parts can be put together to produce alternate results.
It goes on longer but outside of noting that what makes him different from the computer is that he can visualize the potential better than your average computer model. And where do they decide to put Wesley? On the BRIDGE flying the ship? I would think given his talents you’d make him an acting ensign in engineering or one of the other mechanical sciences. After “The Naked Now” they really don’t use these talents ever again. And I remind you he was intoxicated with a virus at the time, yet still he was able to reroute various ship functions to reverse the tractor beam…which I would think would already be a simple setting in case they needed it and they never use that again either. It’s like the writers all forgot Wesley’s biggest trait and just made him a know-it-all teenager, often proven right I might add, so no matter how he got it, the bad writing would keep smacking him around.
Otherwise he is a normal fifteen-year-old boy. (He most definitely is not a nerd.)
Getting a bit defensive, writer’s guide? “He’s totally not a nerd. No sir. He doesn’t wear glasses or snort or pick his nose or spouts off useless technobabble. We leave the useless technobabble for everyone else. Just wait until we get to Voyager.” As for the “normal fifteen-year-old boy” who just happens to be a high-tech wizard, was that the problem? Because I get the feeling, genius or not, the writing staff and directors never met a teenager before, even when they were one. I know older writers have the unfortunately bad habit of writing teens as they were when the writers were teens, and that’s not limited to Hollywood, but they couldn’t even get that right.
Sometime midway through the first year, Captain Picard will appoint Wesley an acting-ensign, and it will be clear that the boy’s remarkable abilities will make it appropriate.
I feel this was more a mandate than a suggestion because it really wasn’t made all that clear. And again, they put him on OPS rather than an area where those “remarkable abilities” would do the ship real good and Wesley would learn what he needs to improve himself. The only thing that’s clear to the audience is that Picard did it for Beverly’s benefit (and possible affection). And if you think I’m kidding about that the guide pretty much spells it out in the very same paragraph.
It might never have happened however, except for the fact that the intelligence and personality (and physical beauty) of Wes’s mother has captured Captain Picard’s attention. (Yes, our people are human.)
All those jokes you’ve made about Picard tolerating Wesley just to hook up with his mom, whose husband died in his charge? It’s canon, people. CANON! Sure, the next paragraph tries a bit of damage control, but that’s still his reasoning.
Although Wes may not realize it yet, he bears the many of the same strengths and qualities that made his father such a valuable Starfleet officer. Picard sees this in him and feels it a duty to Wesley’s father to encourage those strengths to grow to fullness.
And to play with his mom. Behold the last paragraph:
Although Wes considers his mother to be impossibly “ancient”, a 20th Century woman would have been ten years younger to have this same look. The romantic Picard can not help noticing that Beverly’s natural walk resembles that of a striptease queen–and he found it increasingly difficult to refuse the mother’s request to let her son observe bridge activities. The boy’s startling intelligence carried events on from there.
Is someone involved in creating this guide not getting enough “action”? A “striptease queen”? (Emphasis mine by the way.) So basically Wesley got where he was because Picard wanted to hook up with his mom and then he saw how much Wesley was like his father and wanted to cultivate that. So Wesley was getting the short end from the start, and then given to writers who think “teenager” is another alien race. No wonder he was written so badly.
You know, someday I should do something about rebuilding Wesley and showing he really could have been a good character had they done it right. They didn’t and the poor kid wouldn’t be very likable for most of his time on the show. Meanwhile, the “Picard wants Beverly” jokes turn out to be actual canon. I think we’ve learned more than we wanted to today. We’re almost done with this look at the writer’s guide. The next part or parts should go quickly because it’s just going over the science fiction terminology the show uses. There may be an interesting observation and a joke or two out of it, but it’s kind of window dressing at this point. Still, we all may learn something else, so come back next time.