Charles Phipps wrote:
Unfortunately, it probably wasn't realistic at all, just a way for the script of The Deadly Years to dumb down an authority figure while allowing Kirk to show what an awesome Captain he was.
I dunno, I could easily see him as a Naval Base Commander equivalent.
As for psychological exams, I believe the ship's counselor is always on the bridge in TNG era because they realize that with the body horror-mutation-mad gods they need someone to make sure the Captains don't go insane at any moment.
Sorry, I didn't mean that it was unrealistic that he could reach that rank without serving on a ship. As others have pointed out, it's possible for non-crew officers (such as medical doctors, chaplains, etc) to reach Captain or above without having commanded or served on a ship.
Stocker was written to be completely clueless as to the abilities of starships (and to regard the violating of the Romulan Neutral Zone to not be a big deal!), yet he was a Starbase Commander.
Starbase 10 was the major Federation facility on the Romulan Border, so Stocker should not only have been fully briefed on the Romulans and the Neutral Zone (in fact, any ships in the sector would have had to go through Stocker to request permission to enter the Zone), he would also be responsible for the deployment of Starfleet forces throughout the sector.
The problem being, had he been written as competently as Stocker should have been, the episode would have been a hell of a lot more dull!
He just fits in the standard pattern seen in several episodes.
"Kirk, I've been put in charge, so do as I say!"
"That's a bad idea!"
"Do it anyway Kirk!"
"See, told you it was a bad idea!"
"Quick Kirk, get us out of this!"
"Okay, done, sorted!"
"Great Kirk, you're really brilliant and I'm an ass!"
Makes good drama, but also makes the Starfleet brass appear to be incompetent in their recruiting/promotion process.
Back to Barclay though, as I said, he's had a few performance issues, but his competence when he gets his mind on the tasks easily outweighs these issues.
Did Finney from Court-Martial regularly pass his psych evaluations? I can't remember if it was mentioned, not seen the episode in a while.