Focal Character Mix and Match

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by CuriousCaitian, Oct 30, 2021.

  1. CuriousCaitian

    CuriousCaitian Commander Red Shirt

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    This is a rather speculative concept that's just popped into my head, one I think has potential to be quite a bit of fun.

    What if...a given episode had a different character as its focal point?

    For example, how would Parallels play out if instead of Worf slipping from dimension to dimension it was Crusher? Or Data? Or <insert character of your choice here>?

    Are there any episodes you believe would be better with a different focal character? Again, I use Parallels as an example, as I think Worf was the wrong choice. Admittedly, that's largely subjective as he's a character, as I've noted before, I find unengaging in general, and thus for me slightly drags down an otherwise fun and inventive episode. Someone like Geordi, or Crusher, not least since they tended not to get as much attention as Worf, would have been preferable for me.

    Fascinated to see what your collective fertile minds come up with. :-)

    PS If anyone can come up with a better thread title, be sure to let me know. Not the best at naming stuff, me.
     
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  2. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I disagree on Parallels, mostly because many of the other characters had already had similar episodes... It was just finally Worf's turn to get bounced around too lol, & it's pretty good as is. :)

    I do like the thread premise though, & have long since thought that the dreaded Shades of Grey could've avoided being so lame had they written it to feature other characters instead of Riker..

    To recap, the show had run down their budget by the end of the 2nd season, & ended up having to deliver one more episode on short notice & on the cheap (I believe during a writer's strike no less) & when such things happen in tv, a very reliable fix is doing a "clip show". Pad an episode's run time with as much old footage as you can string together into a linear concept. It's a tough pill for such a young show though, because it's limited in the amount of material they have to build a clip show.

    So the premise, while sticky, can be done well (Refer to some of M*A*S*H's clip shows) but where I think TNG went wrong with it, is in who they featured, Riker & to some extent Troi. There just isn't much on screen history there to make it interesting imho

    What they should've done is make the planet-side victim... Wesley Crusher. Think about it. In the 1st two seasons, the character who got the most growth & development was Wes. He had the most character experiences, for good or ill. Plus, he'd been aboard all season without his mother, & to have him facing death adds an onus of responsibility to Picard, who was also responsible for Jack Crusher's demise, & who could now be facing losing Beverly's son as well, while she was away. Talk about drama.

    You get to benefit from a much bigger swath of footage from which to feature flashbacks, the vast majority of which relates to the character's growth too. Plus, while Wil Wheaton need only lay in a bed for the whole episode, the character languishing at the bedside wouldn't be Troi (Though she could be around to do her telepathy thing if needed) It would be the show's best actor, Stewart himself, struggling with a very real possibility that he'd lose this boy who he'd been a surrogate father figure to

    I can't imagine any better way to spruce up a rather shoddy episode. It's a good way to grow the characters , especially when you consider that his mother would end up returning, & within a year, Wes would be promoted to full ensign. Having season 2 close with this would be a good endcap for him, kind of eschewing him into the reality of Starfleet duty, once & for all. It might also give good reason for why Beverly came back, when we next see her.
     
  3. Mutai Sho-Rin

    Mutai Sho-Rin Crusty Old Bastard Moderator

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    If you choose a different title, please let me know. I can make that change.
     
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  4. CuriousCaitian

    CuriousCaitian Commander Red Shirt

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    Fair point, and true enough.

    I definitely agree on this one. An exponentially better concept than the actual episode, not least in smoothing over a number of not insubstantial wrinkles in the show. And, as someone who still gets shivers every time he watches the mind-meld outpouring sequence from Sarek, more of Stewart getting to really act can only ever be a good thing.

    Thank you!

    To balance things out regarding Worf, I believe he'd be a better fit as the focus character of Starship Mine than Picard. I know the likely intent was to demonstrate that Jean-Luc could be decisive and even ruthless if the situation left him no other choice, but it jars so much against the rest of his characterisation across the show, not least for being a little contrived, that it always leaves a sour taste, for me.

    It just didn't feel right for him. It does, however, for Worf, the powerful and aggressive security officer with a penchant for jumping straight to the nuclear option, and honestly, he sorely needed a chance to actually be a Klingon warrior for a decent stretch, really show what he could do outside of a Holodeck simulation.
     
  5. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I do agree that we could've used a Worf saves the ship single-handedly episode instead of Picard. I mean Data certainly got enough of them, & Worf rarely got featured as being equally as competent for his attributes. I can also see your points about Picard in it. It is an odd episode for him. Seems like something Stewart himself wanted for the show, given how when he had his say in the movies, he got more action oriented as well.

    The only issue might be that the story was written for a less aggressive approach, more fitting a thinking man's strategy, hiding his identity, biding his time waiting for an opportunity, incidents of outsmarting the antagonists. Even the end is more satisfying because even in defeat against his opponent, he ultimately bested them

    I can't see Worf applying himself in any aspect like that. A Worf saves the ship single-handedly episode just plays like Rambo on a Starship in my mind... not that that couldn't also be awesome. Let's be honest, Worf is rarely overcoming adversity strategically. It even seems his younger brother Kurn has some fancier strategic capability in battle. I think Peak Performance is the only time we ever see Worf applying strategy well. I could be forgetting though.

    Ok, so having ousted Riker from Shades of Grey, & generally undervaluing him in conversations around here a lot, I do think he'd have been a better fit for The Bonding than Worf. The episode falls a little flat for me, & I think Frakes' presence might've improved that

    Likewise, Worf could've been a better fit for Hero Worship than Data. As much as I love Data stuff, it doesn't do much for me. A kid retreating into the persona of an emotionless android in the face of terrible loss & fear works, but it isn't nearly as engaging as him emulating the proud, mighty Klingon warrior to fight back his pain & fear. Plus, now that I'm thinking about it, it also creates a very strange dynamic that Worf's own son doesn't want to live that way, but some human kid thinks he does
     
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  6. CuriousCaitian

    CuriousCaitian Commander Red Shirt

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    I certainly see where you're coming from, and agree on many of the things you mention, but it also makes me believe even more it should have been Worf, for one simple reason: it would have expanded him as a character. It would be a chance to show he's not just Rambo on a Starship, Hulk-smash, gonzo Worf, but capable of strategy and deception and adaptation, giving him more dimensionality.

    It being Picard partly because Stewart wanted more action certainly tracks. I've also long seen it, rightly or wrongly, as a rather reactive episode, as if all those old saws about Picard being a wishy-washy ditherer, as contrasted with go-getter, quick-to-act Kirk, prompted the writer(s) to try and prove otherwise.

    Good call on The Bonding; giving Riker a chance to stretch those much vaunted people powers beyond schmoozing pretty women would have been valuable indeed. Tempting idea with Hero Worship too, as yes, it was a good concept that fell a little flat in the execution, and more depth to Worf's highly uneven relationship with Alexander was sorely needed.

    By the way, and this goes out to everyone, don't be afraid to throw out some really wild changes, just for the heck of it, eg what if Worf had been one of the Rascals?
     
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  7. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When you put it like that... :techman:
    :guffaw:While I think the point of the episode was to give some screen time to their secondary characters, I do imagine it being fun for it to have been Worf & maybe Troi too. A shared experience like that might have also given some sorely need further context to their relationship a season later. There's just so little to draw on to explain that romance developing. There's the stuff in Ethics, some loosening of the dynamic in Cost of Living, & a superficial holodeck adventure in Fistful of Datas. This might've been a chance to break them down a bit more too

    Or... how about instead of Geordi, it's Worf mutating in Identity Crisis?
     
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  8. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As much as I hate the episode but... How about giving the Outcast to Geordi instead of Riker?
    It would have been a nice break from his more awkward, one-sided romances.
     
  9. Westie1701

    Westie1701 Captain Captain

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    As someone who'd like to see the entire universe through Worf-colored glasses I can imagine him being the focal point of just about any episode, but when it comes to Shades of Grey - so aptly called "dreadful" by Mojochi, and which my Trekkie dad called "Trying to make a buffet out of week-old leftovers" - I think Data would have been a much more interesting replacement for Riker.

    Watching his evolution and growth through the series - becoming more "human" as he learned to laugh, learned to smile, wrestled with wisdom vs. intelligence, and how to interpret what were obviously feelings and emotions when he didn't/couldn't really have them. Such a fascinating character arc !

    Oh, and would have liked to have seen anyone - even some rando Red Shirt never seen before nor after ! - in place of Dr. Crusher in SE E12 The High Ground...

    She emotes with all the feelings of warmth and urgency when saying "But my son is on that ship" as I do when noting that we've run out of napkins :rolleyes:
     
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  10. TommyR01D

    TommyR01D Captain Captain

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    If the episode ended with Wesley dying, I'm sure a lot of viewers would have seen it much more favourably.
     
  11. FederationHistorian

    FederationHistorian Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Replace Worf with Guinan in “Parallels”. But the focus is on the alternate lives of Tasha Yar and what she could be like after 7 seasons of TNG (Captain Yar, Counsellor Yar, Chief of Security Yar, Maquis Yar, Yar in the universe where the Borg took over, etc), as a callback to the end of “Yesterday’s Enterprise” when Guinan asked Geordi about her.
     
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  12. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've never been all that fond of Riker being the one to get bestowed Q powers in Hide & Q, & I'm not sure there's anybody else in the cast I'd be as interested to see get them, other than Picard himself. Frankly, the ultimate showdown between Picard & Q should've been on that equal footing imho
     
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  13. JaxsBrokenHeart

    JaxsBrokenHeart Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Would have been interesting to see the likes of Crusher or Troi in Geordi's place for Identity Crisis.
     
  14. WarpTenLizard

    WarpTenLizard Captain Captain

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    "Skin of Evil:" Wesley Crusher
    Do I have to back this one up?

    "Preemptive Strike:" Tasha Yar
    Had Tasha Yar lived, she more than likely would be the one assigned to spy for Starfleet on the Maquis. Unlike Ro, Yar has never actually been part of an organized resistance movement, so it might be even more surprising for Yar to join the Maquis than Ro. Maybe over the course of the series, Yar's initial hero-worship of Starfleet and the Federation has gradually been waning, as she sees more of its flaws, and this could be the final straw for her. It would make the decision that much more difficult for her, to betray her friends of seven years.

    "The First Duty:" Ro Laren
    Obviously this wouldn't be an Academy story. But it would follow the same basic plot. Ro is on some specialized mission with some other lower-ranking officers, and the group conspires to do something daring, in the hopes of impressing their superiors...but instead, they get one of the group killed. Ro, with her already tarnished record, would have far more reason to be on edge about admitting this F-up and letting Picard down.

    OR...

    "The First Duty:" Thomas Riker
    Bring back Will Riker's transport clone. In an attempt to make himself stand apart from the other Riker, Tom agrees to go along with some impulsive stunt that ends up killing someone. Will Riker is the one that figures out what's going on, since he knows himself. Literally.

    "Second Chances:" Ro Laren
    ...OR don't have Thomas Riker. Instead, give Ro the transport clone. Ro's clone was created when Ro's refugee camp was evacuating their asteroid. The other Ro was picked up by space pirates or something, and we see how two Ros with the same sad background could end up in very different places.

    "Frame of Mind:" Reg Barclay
    As much as I enjoy frazzled-Riker, his role in this episode feels a bit random. Having Barclay on the other hand might give it more weight, since he already has genuine neurosis issues. This could be the episode where he learns to trust himself and take more risks. (Though I'm sure he already has episodes that accomplish that.)

    "Parallels:" Beverly Crusher
    If you ask me, her character has far more "what ifs" in her life than Worf. She goes to one universe where her husband is still alive. She goes to another where she's still a widow, but she and Jean-Luc have admitted their feelings and are an item. In another universe, she gave Dr. Pulanski her job and stayed with Starfleet Medical. In another, she failed to un-assimilate Picard, and became a depressed wreck. In another, she is joined to Odan, having stayed with him through all of his hosts, until she ended up becoming one herself. Etc....

    "Schisms:" Alyssa Ogawa
    Let the nurse have her day in the limelight, in an episode about a medical mystery. Dr. Crusher tells Ogawa to let the senior officers handle it, but then Crusher becomes the next victim, and is incapacitated. Ogawa is now determined to save her mentor and her ship.

    EDIT:

    "The Child:" Will Riker
    ....but eliminate the r*pey elements of the storyline, and move the episode's placement much later in the series, after he's done the bulk of his womanizing. Mind you, this is NOT to be treated as any kind of "punishment" against Riker, since he's by all accounts very much an Ethical Slut/Chivalrous Pervert. But, for the guy that's always experimenting with aliens, it makes the most sense to have him end up with some...unexpected results. And again, no alien-r*pe. Riker has consensual but impulsive relations with a woman who turned out to be more alien than he'd anticipated.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2021
  15. CuriousCaitian

    CuriousCaitian Commander Red Shirt

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    @Mojochi - I just found the image of Kid!Worf petulantly insisting he's still a full-fledged Klingon warrior too funny to resist, but yeah, it does have possibilties as far as that bewildering Worf/Troi relationship goes. It honeslty feels like the writers threw darts at a list to choose who they'd pair up. Or spun a wheel. It makes zero sense to me, but maybe if more time and thought had been given to it, my opinion could have been different. As for Picard!Q, that's an idea that has to happen somehow; any fanfic writers want to take a shot? I too struggle to think of another character that would work there, though. Data, maybe?

    Identity Crisis is an interesting one, as it would change pretty fundamentally with a different focus character. I mean, you almost certainly wouldn't have the one scene in it I actually enjoy, the holodeck investigation, if Worf were the one mutating. In fact, I'm honestly not sure how that version would play out, which is kinda tantalising in itself. If Troi had been written well her version could have really played up the psychological aspects, really explored the loss of self, for example. Crusher would be a more science-based, medical exploration of the changes, which also has value.

    @Orphalesion - Not a fan of The Outcast, either - so much potential, so thoroughly wasted - but agreed, a more positive, mutual relationship for Geordi would be very welcome.

    @Westie1701 - Data feels a really strong choice for Shades of Grey, not least as he's the only character that does actually have an arc of sorts, athough the mechanics (excuse the half-pun) of the episode would have to change a bit. The High Ground is an episode I actually really enjoy, really like the themes and approach of, but I concur that Crusher is a weak aspect, though I'd put that down more to the writing than Gates McFadden's performance. Possibly Geordi would have been a better choice, with the rebels needing technical assistance rather than medical?

    Regarding Parallels, I find Guinan and Crusher highly agreeable options both, and struggle to choose between them. They both have characteristics - observant, analytical - that would help the concept fly better than Worf did, for me. Oh, and more Whoopi Goldberg can never, ever be a bad thing.

    @WarpTenLizard - A slew of great possibilties, there! Guess the concept really clicked with you. :) One that confuses me a little is Schisms, as that's not a Crusher episode per se, but more of an ensemble piece - something the series definitely needed more of - and not really a medical mystery, though it had medical aspects. Maybe you've gotten your episodes crossed? Certainly not gonna argue that Nurse Ogawa deserved some time in the sun, though.

    And of course you lot couldn't resist some Wesley-bashing. What's a TNG thread without it? ;)
     
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  16. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Perhaps, but Data with Q powers is a wild episode to consider. Way more abstract than just a normal person with them. Actually, Wes getting them poses some interesting thoughts, considering how they evolved his character (Literally) anyhow

    As for Trorf...I just get the feeling they were out of ideas & wanted a relationship to write for, & had incredibly limited prospects, because they were too intimidated to dive into Riker/Troi or Picard/Crusher. Frankly, I'd rather have seen them ship Geordi & Ro Laren for god sake lol. They needed to give him something anyhow, so we wouldn't be thinking of him as the local creepozoid for the rest of time.
     
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  17. Westie1701

    Westie1701 Captain Captain

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    I've never pulled harder for anyone than for Geordi to overcome his bad Trek PR, but they wrote his character that way, which is a damn shame...

    He was otherwise so confident, likable, and brave - recalling The Enemy (S3 E7) here - so I'm at a loss as to why he'd be portrayed as such a doofus with women.

    From a show, though, where Riker's smarmy "charm" was somehow wildly successful, I can see how they pigeonholed Geordi as perpetually-thwarted despite being, at least to me, a really great guy.
     
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  18. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I thought Geordi made a solid connection With Ro in The Next Phase. Enough to ship it? Not really, but a start for sure
     
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  19. Oddish

    Oddish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm fine with the notion of Worf as hero of Starship Mine... as long as they triple the number of bad guys on the ship, so that Worf can really go Full Klingon on those bozos.
     
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  20. CuriousCaitian

    CuriousCaitian Commander Red Shirt

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    @Mojochi - Well, I am a TAS fan, so wild and abstract is pretty appealing to me. :-p Wesley's a tempter, although might that veer a little too close to Charlie X? I mean, revisiting TOS didn't tend to work out for TNG. If a way could be found to clearly differentiate...

    Honestly, pairing Geordi and Troi would've made more sense than Worf and Troi, if only fractionally. Pretty sure you're right about why they did it, a classic example of needing romance regardless of whether it works for the story/stories or the characters.

    Since we're on a Geordi kick, can anyone think of a romantic episode, other than the aforementioned The Outcast, where Geordi could have worked better than the character who was actually the focus of it?

    And agreed, @Oddish; it would need to be a small army just to be a fair fight. :-D

    ETA: @Westie1701 - Geordi seems to have a been a victim of the old, rather tired saw that nice guys always come last, while Riker benefited from the equally old one that charm, no matter how shallow or false, can get you anywhere. Both really need to be put out to pasture.
     
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