Let’s see what’s out there… Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Starfleet
I wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation. During the legendary show’s 6th season, I submitted a freelance spec script to the series, which was produced in TNG’s 7th Emmy Award nominated last season. TNG was, at the time, a wholly unique TV program, as the only Hollywood drama accepting spec scripts from unagented writers. Later, I’d expand my Hollywood trekking by writing for Deep Space Nine, then pitching to Jeri Taylor, co-creator of Star Trek: Voyager, in her office at Paramount.
My first pro Hollywood script sale launched me on a creative journey. Since TNG, I’ve authored books, written for magazines, newspapers, websites, created TV shows and my website, Laugh Trek.
But it all started with creator Gene Roddenberry’s fantastic 1987 launched Next Generation.
Over the years, I’ve been interviewed often to talk up my Trek tenure, but never covered in detail a few important reasons which led me to be come part of the TNG writing family.
I’d Always Been A Star Trek Fan
Four years old. It’s when I first started watching classic Star Trek.
The Squire of Gothos is the first episode I saw. I clearly recall coming in when mischievous Trelane danced with Kirk’s Yeoman. As a preschooler, I wasn’t sure what it all was, but it was definitely for me. After then, I can’t ever remember not watching Trek on a regular basis. In the 1970’s, we didn’t have DVR’s, and VCR affordability was years away. You had to make time for your TV programs. It was all a matter of plopping down in front of that fat, glowing box each chance I got, so I could trek with Trek. And plop down I did, watching an episode or more a day each time for years – on Channel 11 WPIX in New York City.
Trek Tech Fascinates Me
The seductive, geeky allure of Treknology didn’t start with TNG, but it sure came sparkling of age.
It’s a basic, powerful way to visualize Next Gen’s iconic gadgetry. TNG looked like no other show. The syndicated series literally sparkled. It overwhelmingly pulsed with an intense, colorful vibrancy. If you recalled Capt. Kirk’s original Enterprise as cool, then Jean-Luc Picard’s was that much cooler and far larger. More space, more blinky sets, more fun and future frolic.
In the 24th century, size definitely matters.
Kirk’s Starship felt more Starfleet combat ready and urgent. Its vibe was more future naval fleet capable. The original Enterprise intrigued one as a space borne submarine – an atmosphere probably most effectively explored in the TOS episode, ‘Balance of Terror’.
Picard’s luxury liner delighted as the ultimate video arcade. Its huge monitors and blinking control consoles seductively drew you in to want to play for many satisfying hours. Spock’s Science Station Hood may have been intriguing, but Geordi’s Engineering consoles and Dr. Crusher’s Sickbay work stations were pretty unbeatable.
Loyal fans remember The Next Generation Technical Manual from Rick Sternbach and Mike Okuda – a book gifted to me for Christmas, and one I used throughout all my Trek script writing. Later, that incredible volume was morphed into a fully interactive CD-Rom. One could walk all around Picard’s Galaxy Class Enterprise – and even operate consoles, including firing photon torpedoes on a decloaking Romulan Warbird.
Yup, talk about nerdgasm!
Patrick Stewart Completely Wowed Me
I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. – Patrick Stewart as Locutus
Locutus of Borg, that creepy cybernetic drone the Borg Collective morphed Captain Picard into, would not be seen until the final scene of the last episode of the 3rd season, Best of Both Worlds. But I’d realized there was no resisting Stewart’s excellent acting way before meeting Locutus.
In fact, I’d seen Stewart in director David Lynch’s Dune and the King Arthur movie from director John Boorman, Excalibur, long before he’d squeeze his compact British buns into a Starfleet uniform so woefully lacking pockets. Stewart, in even those small, supporting roles, thrilled me – his voice alone remains one of the most powerful and recognizable in the acting world. He’s the kind of actor who motivates writers to create stories. We love to create characters for and craft dialogue for such an inspirational performer.
I Collected Playmates Action Figures, Props and Toys
Not every Trekker or Trekkie collects toys, models or props – but I’m one of the many dedicated who do.
I’d always been a casual collector of things like Star Wars figures, but when Next Generation hit it big, so did my collectible addiction.
I collected most of the action figures, and picked up the Tricorder and most of the Playmates ships. A friend gave me the TNG phaser for Christmas. By the time I’d sold to Next Gen, I’d amassed a pretty respectable collection. After Paramount paid me for my work, I dropped a sizable chunk of it on even more Trek swag. Yeah, my script dough basically went right back to the studio.
TNG Remains The Very Best Syndicated TV Series
Sure, I’m slightly biased. I’m a Trekker. I wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, when you compare TNG to all other syndicated programs of the era, it rightfully reigns over the rest.
One may compare syndicated TNG to DS9 – whereas Voyager originally aired on the now defunct UPN network – but I’m considering other syndicated offerings of the era. Shows like Wheel of Fortune or news magazines can’t properly be measured against TNG. Star Trek: The Next Generation showed the fans of original Star Trek that new characters could be launched on a new starship finding new adventures. That series such as Star Trek: Discovery, and the forthcoming Captain Picard focused series still generate big buzz, clearly proves Gene Roddenberry’s vision can keep travelling at warp speed for many generations to come.