Captain Tracy wrote:
I always took a special liking to the episodes in which we met OTHER captains from other ships, as well as Fleet Officers and saw other Starships.
How much better if in the 3rd season, the writers had used more Captains and Fleet officers to expand the Star Trek Lexicon, while examining the human condition; and 'fleshing out' more about Starfleet in general, rather than feeding us some of the scripts they did.
Here is my take on how the TOS Star Trek writers used other Star Fleet Officers as Symbols and Plot Devices:
Commodore Robert Wesley - USS LEXINGTON - 'The Ultimate Computer'. You have to love this guy, he plays a 'straight-arrow Kirk' as good as any of Shatners' early performances. He is the embodiment of 'all the good' qualities in what we envision would be the basic requirement for all standard Captains entrusted with a Starship: Competent, Alert, Decisive, Humane, Insightful, ect.
In a way, he is almost 'too Kirk-like', and in point-of-fact, the whole trick of the plot DEPENDS on this fact of his Kirk-likeness, ensuring that his character, and therefore his actions, are predicable-being driven by his virtues-and therefore he does not, when tested, FRY the Enterprise and it's crew,.. along with Daystrom and the M-5 computer.
Commodore Matt Decker - USS CONSTELLATION - 'The Doomsday Machine'
Wow, talk about the embodiment of "Humanistic Error, Guilt and Arrogance",... yet, everyone feels sorry for Decker,.. he is NOT a 'villain' in most peoples eyes - which I could never understand, especially when we HATE him so when he takes command of the Enterprise from Spock.
Though the exchange is a CLASSIC.
From a writers point of view Decker is handled like a master plays a grand piano - his entire psychology is laid out for us in his actions and lines; he is beyond a fully developed 3D character, as he plays so many symbolic roles, it is no surprise that he is so popular,.. he is so REAL.
I think Decker MAY have set the stage for using captains as foreshadowing if Kirk should make the wrong decision - Do what Captain Not-So-Smart does, and you and your crew will end up dead,.. Dead,... DEAD!!!
Decker also garners a huge and variated emotional response,.. you feel sorry for him, you empathize with him, you resent him, you wanna beat him up in the turbo-lift, and then you just feel sorry for the fool, and finally dis-miss him as a Schmuck.
However, in the end, Commodore Decker is still a Di@k, and I would hate to have to work for a guy like this! LOL!
Commodore 'Indecision' STOCKER - USS ENTERPRISE (Temp) - 'The Deadly Years'
Okay, for years I always hated Stocker (almost as much as Commodore Stone in Court Martial), not just a symbol of blind bureaucratic B.S. coupled with inexperience and command impotence and incompetence, but more over as a guy who is fully aware he doesn't know any better, and yet, just because he as some "butter between his braids", he takes control of the ship!! "Ah,.. yeah,... uh,.. I can do this too,... ah,.. I got stripes right here,.. see Starfleet gave me these,.. so gimme the Big Chair".
For a long time I just dismissed STOCKER as a better played and rationalized version of the Kelvans, who take over the Enterprise by pushing on their magic Belly-Buttons,.. however then I discovered that STOCKER is a REAL CHARACTER, a I've actually worked for this guy,... many times. Sheesh!
Captain Ronald Tracy - USS EXETER - 'The Omega Glory'
Okay, GREAT looking Captain,.. tall, imposing, grey hair denoting distinguished experience,... so how did Ron Tracy get past the StarFleet Academy Psych-Eval??????
I mean think about it,... what does it say about StarFleet's critical thinking if they will entrust a 500 Million credit, fully armed Starship to a guy, who at the first sign of 'pot luck' becomes a scheming Flim-Flam man version of Ponce de-Leon for profit with an itchy trigger-finger,.... seriously, wouldn't Ron Tracy been called out of "Alien Encounters 101" and withdrawn from StarFleet Academy on day three of his freshman year ???
Great symbol of failed character, though I think they should have set the bar for Tracy to fail MUCH higher, and cut down on the whole "Kolms and Yangs" thing. Better to have done the character exploration as the story here, and left the anti-war/ Vietnam/ war profiteer thing out all together.
Captain 'Dead with Broken Neck' JOHN DOE - USS DEFIANT - 'The Tholian Web'.
Perfection in Foreshadowing! The guy obviously made THE deadly error, and now, he and his crew of 430 is dead,... Dead,... DEAD!!!
You have to love the fact that not only is this guy dead, he is bald to boot!!! Did you ever notice on TV how the 'Bald Guy' is automatically the screw-up (unless your Telly Savalas or Patrick Stewart),...
Bald Guy: Hey John,... My _____ is broken, and I get no respect!
John, with Hair: You should have a ______ by Ronco. and your ______ will look as good as mine, and if you lose that unsightly belly fat,... you'll get the girls!
Bald Guy: Awww Shucks,.. how do I order!
I digress, LOL!! Anyway,.. The Defiant Captain (who's name we never learn) serves the simple and perfect plot function of foreshadowing the story and elevating the "Impending Doom/ Cost of Failure" thing so perfectly,.. and it is this aspect of Trek story-telling that I would have loved to have seen more of,... as I could have done without the 3rd season trip to Minara II to meet the mysterious and empathic mute woman named "Gem".