I remember back in the summer of 1989, I saw a news story on Entertainment Tonight (or one of those shows) where they announced that Diana Muldaur was joining the cast of L.A. Law and that Gates McFadden was coming back to TNG. At the time, I didn't know why Gates had left. I just assumed she was bored and wanted to pursue other roles much like Denise Crosby did. I also assumed that Muldaur quit TNG because she wanted to be on L.A. Law. Later that year, I saw McFadden in The Hunt for Red October
. Seeing how small a role she had made me think her film career never materialized and that was why she came back to TNG. So I was very surprised to hear some of the rumors of what really happened.
I'm sure this has been asked before, but can someone fill me in on the details? Muldaur herself has said that she didn't feel like they wanted her there, that there was a lot of infighting going on, etc. How much of this was true? Did the TNG cast just not make her feel welcome? Were they upset over McFadden being replaced? They had a reputation for being pretty childish so I can't imagine someone like Muldaur fitting it. Even Patrick Stewart had trouble with it in the beginning.
I was never a big fan of the Pulaski character. She seemed too much like a McCoy clone, right down to her dislike of transporters. While it was nice to have someone who challenged the captain, I felt like she just didn't blend in well with the rest of the crew. In season 1, Picard emerged as a kind of father figure to the crew. Except for Stewart and Will Wheaton, the rest of the cast were all in their 30s. By adding Pulaski, it was like having a mother around. And who wants to watch a show about an old couple and their kids flying around in a starship?
As for Muldaur, I thought she was great on L.A. Law. Her character on that show was meant to elicit a reaction from the audience, to see how they would react to a woman being tough and no-nonsense, which in a way was a precursor to having a female captain.