Starship Captains

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by TopperHenly, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. TopperHenly

    TopperHenly Ensign Red Shirt

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    I've been caught up with other things for the past couple of weeks which included watching the original Star Trek series as a result of being on this forum. I have been watching select episodes of that series but I have decided to give TNG a try and watched the opening 2 parter Encounter at Farpoint last night.

    I haven't seen Discovery or the Picard series but from the rest of them, we have had starship captains with different personalities but also having to face different situations which tested both themselves and their command style.

    I watched TNG when it was originally broadcast but it never really made that much of an impression on me to watch since. To be honest, I don't remember much of it especially as I had recalled that one of the characters I had liked, Tasha Yar, was only in the first season. The thing that made me biased it against it that everything seemed to resolve itself so easily as the crew 'did the right thing' and there was no consequences to their actions. In short, it was too squeaky clean for my liking.

    Of course that is bias on my part. The opening 2 parter wasn't great but it wasn't bad and I intend to watch select episodes of that series as well. Of course not having an idea of how the series progressed but from a quick google, I think it is safe to say in the period in which TNG is set, the Federation existed in a stable period and faced no serious existential threat to it's existence, apart from the Borg and therefore would require a different type of Starship captains than those in for example the period set in DS9 where it was involved in geopolitical struggles between a number of competing powers as well as a very real and sustained threat from the Dominion.

    What did impress me about Encounter at Farpoint was the acting, in particular Patrick Stewart. Of course he is a Shakespearian type actor with all that type of theatrics but he was quite charismatic and seemed to know how to deal with different types of personalities under his command. I got the impression that this might have been part of this captaincy where in this stable period of the Starfleet history, diplomacy and statesmanship was more essential than military prowess. An example of this is when he says to Riker that while he hates children he needs to come over as a figure of geniality to the crew he commands, many of whom have children themselves.

    If this is true, would it mean that Captains in the TNG era where the Federation was projecting soft power in the form of diplomacy rather than action, would require soft skills more or at least as much than just pure hard skills?
     
  2. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Commodore Commodore

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    Picard's versatility was great. He used a stern display of strength when required, like in his confrontations with Tomalak, diplomatic skills when negotiating treaties and resolving disputes, swore like a Klingon when dealing with them, but displayed "an almost Vulcan quality" when dealing with those.
     
  3. TopperHenly

    TopperHenly Ensign Red Shirt

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    Jun 2, 2020
    Thanks NCC-73515.

    I've been watching episodes throughout the series rather than chronologically and other Starship captains as well as Starfleet command has been shown. It is obvious that Picard's command style and approach is the exception rather than the normal in Starfleet. However, he is obvious he is well respected by keeping command of the command ship of the Federations fleet as well as seen as a hero outside it.

    From the episodes I've seen, this projection of soft power that I had mentioned had changed with the introduction of the Borg as well as the increased aggressiveness of both the Romulans and the Cardassians which affected geopolitical stability and in turn affected the Federation. This obviously would have a change of policy to one of pragmatism and slid down the path of the Federation talking a more hawkish approach which is seen in episodes from later seasons. From what I've read, this was done as a change of direction for the series due to the declining influence of Roddenberry who didn't want conflict between Starfleet members as well as not wanting to have familiar enemies and especially as the Ferengi didn't 'size' up as a replacement.

    The thing is that while this was a behind the scenes decision, I do find the notion of a 'golden era' where the Federation needs to adapt it's outlook from that of an almost Gung Ho approach of Archer and Kirk to that of Picard which qualities of diplomacy and almost detached analytical approach to situations really interesting.
     
  4. Ar-Pharazon

    Ar-Pharazon Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    "Cowboy Diplomacy" was a thing of the past by the time of Picard ;)

    Still, they went the "Last Action Picard" route in the movies for some reason. It's ridiculous that this is expected in movies, even ones made 20+ years ago.
     
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  5. TopperHenly

    TopperHenly Ensign Red Shirt

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    There is no doubt that narrative plays a part in how the story is told. As you mention, Ar-Pharazon the movies played to a certain tone and with TNG, the tone changed to one where militarism played a bigger part with the threats from other powers to the Federation.

    While it may not have been the reasoning behind the earlier seasons of TNG, I do find it fascinating even though I didn't really enjoy them as much as the later ones is this idea of the Starships quietly expanding the Federation through diplomacy and soft power and how they did it through having captains like Picard. It's not exciting but it gives a glimpse at least of how they would have operated even though it isn't central to the plots of individual episodes. It's a bit like the miniseries and first season of RDM's Battlestar Galactica where we hear members of the crew being called to duty, monotonous repetitions of SitReps and even events seen by us as fantastic like jumping to FTL is treated by members of the crew sitting bored chewing gum.
     
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