At what point did Riker stop beeing a renamed Will Decker?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by FreddyE, Aug 26, 2021.

  1. FreddyE

    FreddyE Captain Captain

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    I recently rewatched TMP and coincidentely Encounter At Farpoint. That way it´s pretty easy to notice that in the beginning Riker wasn´t that much more then a renamed Will Decker. When did he stop beeing a "replacement Will"? Was it when he grew the beard or somewhen in season one? Or was it more a gradual thing?

    Side Note: Thank god he lost that "stuck up attitude" he has during Farpoint by the second episode. I always crinch when he dresses down LaForge "Is that an offical report?"...it seems so...well...unusually strict for Starfleet.
     
  2. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Picard was also oddly unfriendly at first, like Kirk in TMP. Riker and Troi replaced Decker and Ilia from the Phase II show that was planned but didn't happen. TNG got much better once they moved beyond all that.
     
  3. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Cool discussion. Early episodes of shows tend to have characters rough around the edges... I recall Riker in "Lonely Among Us" acting all-superior with the "eating animals is barbarism" shtick (though the Antican retort inverting their situations was pretty good too.)

    I'd agree with @NCC-73515 that the show improved by leaps and bounds as it got away from TMP-esque styles and how Picard too had very cringey moments, of which "Code of Honor" and "The Neutral Zone" feature numerous moments of Picard being no better than Riker's moments at best, and often worse. Even Riker wouldn't order volleys of torpedos being detonated around the planet (which didn't work anyway...)

    Season 2 improved things markedly... jokes about "the beard"(tm) aside, season 2 refined and tightened up enough to get the credit of where the show really began to shine and make proper use of its characters and other ingredients. (Season 3 only polished what was already tightened, fairly consistently across the year... some of the cast also opine that season 2 is when the show took off but the fan consensus is season 3, and arguably only because Crusher came back.)
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'd say it happened the same way that James T. Kirk and Leonard McCoy became more than a renamed Christopher Pike and Phil Boyce -- when the writers started reflecting what the actors brought to their roles and writing more to their strengths. I think that from the start, Frakes was less stiff and more easygoing than Stephen Collins was.
     
  5. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    And can you blame them? I know it's "the cool thing" right now to like Pulaski (for whatever reason), but I still don't like the character.
    Crusher, in my opinion was the better character, but not used very effectively.

    But I can agree that Season 2 was the beginning of the "improved version" of TNG, a lot of elements were put in place that defined the series later on, and Season Three was, sort of the "second half" of the improvement.
    Though I also have to say that Season 2, in my opinion, didn't have many good episodes and quite a number that stank to high heaven.
     
  6. STEPhon IT

    STEPhon IT Commodore Commodore

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    When Riker didn't lose the Enterprise by an incompetent, unprofessional Admiral, or Troi not being consumed by an automaton. When Riker's father was seen as a hard nose individual and fueled the man he would become because he wanted the best for him, and he had a goal to be the successor of the Enterprise and never felt the urge to compete with a self-elected Captain in TMP.* The DNA of Decker was there but as soon as Stewart moved on to navigate Encounter at Farpoint Riker became his own.

    *Picard was better than that and no matter what happened later on in that film Kirk looked petty and small. I sided with Decker all the way, Kirk was the Joe Biden of Captaincy in TMP.
     
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  7. A Chimpanzee & 2 Trainees

    A Chimpanzee & 2 Trainees Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    Beyond the Ilia/Troi dynamic with the respective characters at the start, I didn't think there was a whole lot of similarity, honestly. The power dynamics were totally different. Decker had already "made it" but was now a demoted Captain, seething inside that he was better equipped to handle the mission than an Admiral who came in throwing his weight and reputation around. In Decker's mind, Kirk had to prove to HIM that he deserved to be there, and honestly I don't remember Kirk really making a decision in the film that would have. He usually made a bad decision and lucked out.

    Decker only lost that anger only when he found something more important to him to focus on - bringing what was left of Ilia out of the probe. He saved humanity from V'Ger almost as a side benefit to his obsession with her/it.

    Riker came in a fast-rising ambitious upstart who was trying to prove to everyone that he was good enough to be a Captain - competing not with the CO, but competing to become the next CO (of that ship or more likely, another) As the series wore on, he proved himself to the crew but lost his sense of ambition, which depending on your personal opinions as a fan is either ridiculous character regression, or merely an acceptable shift in his goals once he got there.

    I would say it was no later than The Icarus Factor, when Riker was offered the Aries and stayed - that's when he became the anti-Decker. There's no way Decker, in that situation, wouldn't have jumped ship to get as far away from Kirk as possible, no matter what.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That was in the movie. The TNG characters were based more on the Phase II TV series that evolved into TMP. That show would've centered on an older, more seasoned Kirk mentoring Decker as his up-and-coming protege and prospective replacement, which was the basis of the Picard-Riker dynamic. Of course, Troi was a reworking of Ilia as you say, and Data was based on Xon (unemotional science officer seeking to explore human emotion to relate better to his crewmates) as well as the title android from The Questor Tapes.
     
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  9. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    I mean, we have no idea how Phase II would have gone for seven seasons too. A lot of concepts didn't need to translate.

    One notable fact being Riker was there to do the action heavy lifting but Patrick Stewart has always wanted to do the badass Die Hard in Space stuff while Frakes, well, unfortunately had a serious back condition. Filming and character issues are not always about storytelling but adjusting to the situation.
     
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  10. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    I think of all Season 1 episodes Code of Honor was the one that rung closest to what Phase II might have been (and I don't mean the causal racism) We have Riker trying to keep Picard from beaming down to the planet because it's the First Officer's job to go on field missions and keep the Captain safe on the Bridge (which irrc was in the Phase II writer's bible) and Troi is acting all cold, reserved and calculating, and being very blunt like Ilia would have been.
     
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  11. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I always liked Pulaski, even at the time she was deemed "uninspired McCoy clone". Then comes Voyager where not as much of the mannerisms but clearly for the catchphrase was lamely copied and everyone now drools. Without Robert Picardo elevating it... Seven was the (second) "Spock trope redux" in the show as well... the testament to Jeri Ryan and Tim Russ pulling more out of the scripts really showed their interest in it.

    Definitely agreed that Crusher was not used effectively.

    Season 2's stinkers were _bad_, the Okona story is easily the go-to example, and season 3's worst entries couldn't come close to that in any way shape or form. "Second half of improvement" makes sense...
     
  12. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    Oh I wasn't necessarily talking about you, just that I've noticed Pulaski being regarded as the bee's knees lately in this forum. Liking a character is perfectly alright.
    I will be honest I never liked the grouchy/abrasive Doctor McCoy archetype in its various permutations; not the original, not Pulaski, not the Doctor.
    The only exception is Dr.T'ana from Lower Decks, maybe it's because she's a human cat and the personality fits that idea, but I absolutely love her.

    It feels like after they decided they wouldn't do anything with the potential Crusher/Picard romance, they just shoved her character into the background and relegated her almost exclusively to medical stuff.
    I think Dr.Crusher is often dismissed as just gentle and sweet background filler, but I think, just like with Troi and Geordi, there are some hints every now and then that they could have become very interesting characters with different writing.
     
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  13. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's rarely specified (in that that episode doesn't get praise, or even attention, for that aspect) but I see a lot of fans do wish she had been more like that for at least a lot of the early show.
     
  14. Oddish

    Oddish Rear Admiral Commodore

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    Anyone who's seen Beverly use a phaser is not going to think she's all sweet and gentle. She's a stone killer when she needs to be.
     
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  15. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    I only noticed it when i was re-watching the episode so I could be sure about something for a discussion here and noticed how weird Troi's behaviour in this episode is.
    The episode might be one of the worst of Season 1, but it's the only one where Troi comes close to her original concept of being the intellectual of the cast.

    Though even so it's realized with all the "skill" and "subtlety" of season 1:

    "Betazoid blood is practical, Captain!" I mean...seriously? Dialogue like that is what people mean when they say Season 1 seemed like a 1960s TV show 20 years too late

    She doesn't even a phaser to be badass. When she sees people who need help she's there, and if she had to go through hell itself to get to them.
     
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  16. Oddish

    Oddish Rear Admiral Commodore

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    True, but the fact remains, she's even more badazz with a phaser.

     
  17. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    Well stone cold stunner...
     
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  18. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Have you read David Gerrold's "Blood and Fire" script? Bev has some powerful scenes asserting medical perspectives in an emergency and overruling Picard. It was intended to be an early defining moment for the CMO.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
  19. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    Edit: Sorry I misread script as novel while on my phone. Will look into it!
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Whoa, non sequitur. "Blood and Fire" is, as Therin said, a script that David Gerrold wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation when he was on its staff in 1987. It was rejected for homophobic reasons (it was an AIDS allegory and acknowledged that gay people exist), and that was a factor in his departure from TNG, if I recall right. Gerrold did eventually turn it into a novel, but as the third installment of his Star Wolf series. He also turned it into an episode of a Trek fan film series.
     
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