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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old April 5 2014, 03:04 AM   #1
Lance
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"One of our chief engineers..."

This line, from Where No One Has Gone Before has always fascinated me:

RIKER: Guided, of course, by one of our Chief Engineers, Lieutenant Commander Argyle in this case.
TOS always seemed to imply one chief engineer, although maybe he was just the only one we saw. But this line implies that TNG has got several.

Now of course the line was evidently devised to explain away why every few episodes in TNG's first season the show had a new guy in charge of the engine room.

But...

1) Do we think this was maintained for the rest of TNG's run? Geordi becomes 'our' chief engineer for pretty much the every episode from season two onwards, but do we think maybe he's just the chief on one shift, and that Agyle and McDougal and Lynch are chiefs of different shifts to Geordi?

2) Or maybe, was the situation with more than one chief engineer a result of the Galaxy Class being so new? Maybe in that first year it was technically necessary to have multiple highly skilled technicians present for what is basically the shake-down cruise, and season two marks the point where they're satisfied that regular practice (one chief, maybe a smaller contingent of work crew, etc) can be implemented?

(TNG-Remastered replaced an Okudagram in "Galaxy's Child" with one inferring that Mcdougal and Lynch at least were still aboard as far as into TNG's fourth season, although given that's a recent addition then it's status within the canon must be seen as a little blurry?).
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Old April 5 2014, 03:08 AM   #2
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

I pretty much just go with the idea the systems on the E-D were so new that they had to on-the-job train various chief engineers assigned to other Galaxy-class starships. It's possible, and likely from a story told by Picard later in the series, Geordi was taken purely with the intent to make him Chief Engineer but maybe he just needed more time in to get a promotion from Lieutenant J.G. to full Lieutenant, meanwhile he would serve as the CONN officer and also do some OTJ-training which is why we often see him dealing with Engineering issues.
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Old April 5 2014, 03:26 AM   #3
Hober Mallow
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

Wasn't poor Singh from "Lonely Among Us" a chief engineer also? I can't remember if he wasn't referred to as the chief engineer or a chief engineer -- or as simply engineer Singh.
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Old April 5 2014, 04:21 AM   #4
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

I don't know what Roddenberry was thinking with the initial casting. Worf was redundant because of Yar. Geordi was pretty much extraneous too. Plus there was the issue of the therapist on the bridge, but that's another issue.

The story goes that Roddenberry forgot to include any scenes in Engineering in the pilot, so Paramount refused to build the set. Roddenberry had to rewrite the script to include the Engineering set, otherwise who knows how that might have worked out. But even so, he never thought to have a chief engineer, at least not a real one. Scotty was a popular TOS character, so I wonder why Roddenberry omitted having a chief engineer as part of the main cast.

In the end, Yar left, Worf found a place at tactical, Geordi left his part-time helmsman position and found a place at chief engineer, leaving a spot at helm for Wesley. The dominoes fell so well, you'd think it was planned.
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Old April 5 2014, 04:30 AM   #5
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

Also, what was the deal with "Leland T. Lynch". We got no backstory for this random character, but he insisted on using his full name everytime, and Picard clearly did not like the character from the start.
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Old April 5 2014, 05:11 AM   #6
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

I always like to think that Lieutenant Commander Leland T. Lynch died during one of those many coolant leak emergencies.
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Old April 5 2014, 05:17 AM   #7
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

jimbotron wrote: View Post
Also, what was the deal with "Leland T. Lynch". We got no backstory for this random character, but he insisted on using his full name everytime, and Picard clearly did not like the character from the start.
I remember that little eye-roll that Picard did when Leland T. Lynch responded to his hail.
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Old April 5 2014, 07:39 AM   #8
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

jimbotron wrote: View Post
But even so, he never thought to have a chief engineer, at least not a real one. Scotty was a popular TOS character, so I wonder why Roddenberry omitted having a chief engineer as part of the main cast.
I think it's more accurate to say Roddenberry (here taking Roddenberry to mean the entire group of people designing Next Generation at its start) deliberately chose to not have a chief engineer, probably as a way of keeping the new show from being too easily analogous to the old one.

Consider: the main characters on the original series were the ones with the positions of ship's captain, the first/science officer, the chief medical officer, the chief engineer, the communications officer, helm, and navigation. On the new show, well, there's the ship's captain --- in earliest conception, someone who'd be present but not the protagonist, in the days before they learned Patrick Stewart was much more interesting than Jonathan Frakes --- and the chief medical officer, but otherwise …

The first/science officer got split into two people (in The Motion Picture) and then the science officer position just … evaporated. No chief engineer. No communications officer; the job of opening hailing frequencies went to the security chief (not a regular post on the original show) and the job of complaining that Star Fleet has annoying orders went to … well, I guess Ops (a post that didn't exist on the original show), and helm and navigation duties went to … whatever Ops and Conn were, depending on whether they were paying Wil Wheaton or LeVar Burton this week. Oh, and there's the ship's counsellor, a post kind of budded off of part of McCoy's roles.

Having different posts and a different split of responsibilities doesn't guarantee that you're writing something good, of course, but it does mean that even when they try to imitate the original series (``The Naked Now'', ``Code of Honor'', ``Angel One'', etcetera) the tone comes out differently because the character sets can't logically echo the original series's too perfectly.

So, I think the decision not to have a chief engineer, at least not as a regular cast member, was a conscious effort to make the dynamics of officers interacting necessarily different and distinctive.
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Old April 5 2014, 08:25 AM   #9
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

I believe Data was meant to be the science officer, but a blue uniform clashed with the android makeup, so Data was changed to Ops, giving him the yellow uniform.

Roddenberry seemed to flip when it came to recycling/referencing things from TOS. He didn't seem too worried when recycling Decker/Ilia from Phase 2 and TMP. Then there was the Xon character who became Data, and McCoy's cameo in EAF. Not to mention the very first episode after the pilot was a sequel of sorts to The Naked Time.

But then later, he forbade references to TOS like initially refusing to allow a mention of Spock in the episode Sarek.
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Old April 5 2014, 10:22 AM   #10
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

Melakon wrote: View Post
I always like to think that Lieutenant Commander Leland T. Lynch died during one of those many coolant leak emergencies.
I'd like to think he was eventually demoted to ensign, assimilated by the Borg, and phasered to death by Picard.
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Old April 5 2014, 11:17 AM   #11
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

Lieutenant Commander Leland T. Lynch was put on permanent watch-and-repair duty of that pesky starboard power coupling.

They just gave him a nice little cot and a first-generation food replicator right next to it told to stay there.
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Old April 5 2014, 05:50 PM   #12
Hober Mallow
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

jimbotron wrote: View Post
I don't know what Roddenberry was thinking with the initial casting. Worf was redundant because of Yar.
Which isn't a surprise, because Roddenberry hated the character of Worf. Wasn't it recently reported in an interview with Ira Behr or Ron Moore than even as late as the fourth season, Roddenberry was suggesting Worf wasn't a strong enough character to have an episode all to himself?
jimbotron wrote: View Post
Roddenberry seemed to flip when it came to recycling/referencing things from TOS. He didn't seem too worried when recycling Decker/Ilia from Phase 2 and TMP. Then there was the Xon character who became Data, and McCoy's cameo in EAF. Not to mention the very first episode after the pilot was a sequel of sorts to The Naked Time.

But then later, he forbade references to TOS like initially refusing to allow a mention of Spock in the episode Sarek.
Roddenberry wanted nothing to do with the original series -- no aliens, no characters, no references. It was people like D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold who kept pushing him to have some connection with TOS, hence Worf, the odd Vulcan in the background, and possibly McCoy's cameo as well.
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Old April 5 2014, 06:21 PM   #13
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

Regarding the characters we saw, Singh wasn't a Chief Engineer, but an Assistant Chief; this position, first mentioned in "The Naked Now", probably survived into the later years of the ship's adventures, but wasn't really heard of again. We never learned why an Assistant Chief would be sent to talk with the top officers, rather than the Chief him- or herself; it wasn't as if the Chief Engineer should have been too busy with anything more important at the time.

Leland T. Lynch was never called Chief Engineer, and probably was a dilithium specialist of some sort. This would explain why he felt he needed to give his full name when answering Picard's call: not only would Picard need to know that the man answering from Engineering was not the Chief Engineer, but odds are Picard wouldn't even remember who this guy was. Also, you need to be a bit of an asshole when you perform a rare and dangerous operation that the top officers have little understanding of... And you can afford to, if you are just doing this one special job for them.

Of the others, three were actually established as Chief Engineers: MacDougal in "The Naked Now", Argyle in several episodes, and then Logan in "Arsenal of Freedom". The latter was a grievous mistake IMHO: TrekCore has the penultimate script version where Logan isn't established as a Chief, but merely as a high-ranking officer who feels he should take over the center seat. (That version also avoids some stardate problems relating to Tasha Yar's death...)

Three is enough to justify Picard's "One of our CEOs" thing, though, while two would probably warrant some other way of phrasing that.

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Old April 5 2014, 06:34 PM   #14
Hober Mallow
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

I just figured after the events of "The Naked Now" McDougal requested to be transfered out of that nuthouse.
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Old April 5 2014, 07:07 PM   #15
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Re: "One of our chief engineers..."

jimbotron wrote: View Post
Also, what was the deal with "Leland T. Lynch". We got no backstory for this random character, but he insisted on using his full name everytime, and Picard clearly did not like the character from the start.
Well, with Leland T Lynch I think we just had a little glitch where a first-season character accidentally had some personality. Yes, it was a personality that made you roll your eyes and want to punch him, but compared to the mass of soft-focused beige that was Riker or LaForge or … um … what'sername, repeating his full name at every opportunity was something.
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