Geeks in the Mist: Star Trek Captains

niners-hat
So American he makes eagles cry.

I’m a Saint Louis Cardinals fan.  Cubs fans receive nothing but mockery from me, Royals fans, even more.

Some might wonder why I’m such an ass to people that are fans of different baseball franchises.  Why should I care?  They don’t know me, the players would leave in a heartbeat for more money if it weren’t for their contracts and it’s expensive.  Baseball players get millions of dollars to hang out and play a game, so why give a crap?

I’d ask the same about the low, yet unending argument over Captains in Star Trek.  Usually Jean Luc Picard and James T. Kirk are the centers for such geeky word exchanges (Which pisses me off since Ben Sisko was easily the best.  He had the most soul) It has settled down in recent years, but I have heard the rumblings resurging with the impending release of the new Star Trek movie directed by J.J. Abrams.  For some reason, people think this man walks on water, but they obviously haven’t seen Cloverfield or half of the episodes of Lost

In all, there have been five Captains (Try to name them all, FULL NAMES with actor names, no peeking, and yes, we are counting Enterprise.)  James Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, Ben Sisko, Kathryn Janeway and Jonathan Archer.  Each has varying degrees of competence and strengths  I think for this column, we can lay out everything and you, the reader, can decide for yourself which one is worthy of your worship.

kirkJames T. Kirk, The first Captain!

William Shatner has been busy since the ending of the original series.  He’s had cameos, characters on various TV shows and a cult following that rivals Bruce Campbell’s.  It comes as no surprise that someone as versatile as Shatner would garner so much love, what his his abilities to play the Captain of the Enterprise, a cop, a spoken word “artist” and corporate sellout.  The more you stay in the public eye and keeping your genitals covered up, the more people will remember you with that loving nostalga.  But what was he like as a Captain?

Kirk was young, handsome and had a great head of hair.  He spent his time making out with various alien creatures with heaving breasts that would fall in love with him and die just before the end of the episode, allowing for another humanoid female that may be considered too young by earth standards to come around.  Kirk gave geeks a chance to believe that one day they may brush off the cheeto dust and get to bang a green lady with six breasts.

He had an amazing crew, all of whom remain memorable to this day.  They would follow him, question him, support him and win with him every episode.  You couldn’t ask for a better group of people.  Every one of them, Spock, McCoy, Checkov, Sulu and Mr Scott (And I swear to Christ, the first person that thinks the phrase “Scotty, beam me up” will get a Falcon Punch.  It was never said, He called him Mr. Scott.  Yes, I’m that much of a dork about it) were amazing.

Finally, Kirk also had the first interracial on screen kiss with Nichelle Nichols.  Granted, they had to say that since he was under the influence of some mind control so the rednecks wouldn’t get all uppity, but it still happened.

Cons? Predictability.  Ensign Jimmy is not coming back, Kirk will make out with some alien babe, Spock will be logical, all of it.  There were some great episodes, but it was for the most part a reprint of past episodes.  Names, places and dates were changed, but the overall message remained.  The upside to most of this was they could use this cookie cutter outline to convey some great messages, telling us that racism is bad, and hot green alien ladies are good. There is a reason it still survives to this day as a great show, and Kirk a great Captain.

jean-luc-picardJean-Luc Picard, the first Bald Captain!

Patrick Stewart isn’t as visible on the television these days, but he loves the stage.  He also has a good sense of humor about himself and the world around him.  You can see him with great cameos in Extras!, Robin Hood, Men in Tights and the Seth McFarlane shows Family Guy and American Dad.  He solidified his status in the geek culture as Professor X in the X-Men movies as well as re-energizing the Star Trek franchise with a show given a budget, and a Captain that had a great accent.  Sure he was French, but racism wasn’t as bad in the future.  I assume the French did something awesome between now and then, and the world gave a fist pound and said “We’re good, bro.”

His crew was great, all of them just just as snarky as himself when it came to it.  No logical Vulcans (which, though I enjoyed Spock, I felt he brought the humor down on TOS) just intelligent people who could fix an emergency and go for a laugh and a drink afterwards.  Riker, LaForge, Data, Crusher and Worf were great compliments to his character and his ship.  I was pissed they killed off Tasha Yar, though I was glad I didn’t have to listen to her talk about how had it was growing up in whatever hellhole she was from.  She also posed in Playboy in 1979, looking all kinds of fine.  No one should be killed off by a trash bag.

Picard seemed to go another way with his leadership role.  He rarely went to the surface of a planet, usually because Riker told him he couldn’t, he didn’t bang every female in sight, even though there were a few trying to get into his pants (and head, if you remember Councelor Troi’s mother) and he rarely let his emotions get the better of him.  I liked him more than Kirk, I liked his crew better, and I loved to listen to him speak.  He had a true commanding tone which reverberated every time he spoke, and a kindness which was unparalleled.  You didn’t know he helped you until it was all over, and wouldn’t accept your thanks.  He was your Captain.  It was his job

Cons: The show relied heavily on his supporting cast.  I could see Kirk being on any starship and still making it interesting, but Picard needed his crew to really sell the episodes.  I haven’t seen too much of ST:TOS, but I remember the ones I watched were always Kirk oriented.  Good for the Show, not for the Captain  Also: French.  They still haven’t wowed me, and the Revolutionary War was years ago.

ben-siskoBenjamin Sisko, the first Black Captain!

Now we move away from starships, which was a welcome change in my eyes.  The first two series gave the captains too much mobility.  They had the option to run.  You can’t run in a damned space station.
This may be a bit lopsided since Sisko was my favorite captain by far, and had some of the greatest supporting characters ever.  Rather than focus in on Klingons, Vulcans or random new species which would be explained and thrown away, Deep Space 9 had recurring characters in the Ferengi race, the Bajorans and the Cardassians, among many others.  Sure, many of these races showed up in the older iterations, but now they are characters, and we get to look into their psyche a bit more.
And Quark was amazing.  Of all the side characters in the Star Trek universe, he is easily my favorite.
The best part of Sisko? He fought the Borg.  More importantly, he fought Picard as a Borg.  He went up against the Borg when they had all kinds of information on the Federation and helped beat them the hell back.  In fact, he kinda hates Picard, and it’s made known in the first episode of the first season.  Who would blame him?  This guy is so dedicated to his crew and his cause that he will go ahead and hate one of the most respected men in Star Fleet.
Need more?
He loves baseball, and baseball isn’t even played anymore in the timeline except in small groups of afficinados.  He was born and raised in New Orleans and is the son of a Creole chef, something he himself practices on a regular basis.  Sisko flips a bird to replicators and cooks shrimp jumbalya on his own.  He is a damned American, and proud of it.
One more thing, he was born because of a Bajoran prophecy.  He is a damned prophet for an entire race, and was born because of their influence and social engineering.  Picard was not a prophet.  Kirk was not a prophet.  These are facts.
Sure, I could cite that DS9 was a show my father and I bonded over when i was younger, or that it was my first detailed and in depth introduction to the Star Trek Franchise, but I like to think the reason Sisko is the best captain is simple.
He just is.
Cons: First off, get over your thing about Picard.  That was years ago.  Second, I didn’t like how it was set in the same time period as ST:TNG.  There is a time gap between the TOS and TNG, I always thought it suffered from not having the same with DS9.  Then again, We wouldn’t have had more Worf.  Then again again, we wouldn’t have had to see him get it on with Dax.  Take your pick on that one, I guess

janewayKathryn Janeway, the fist woman captain!

I only got about halfway through Voyager before I left it behind, though it wasn’t because I didn’t like it.  I just didn’t have time to watch anymore.  Airing on UPN from 1995 to 2001, it has the distinction of being the longest running shown on UPN (How much of distinction that is, I’ll leave up to you) and the first Star Trek series to use CGI.  Some may think it suffered from that, but it brought back some of the cheesyness left behind by TNG.  The crappy costumes were replaced by crappy CGI.  It made sense to me.

Voyager is set in the Delta Quadrant, an unexplored chunk of space after a whole bunch of shooting and general asshettery on all sides.  Two crews, that of Voyager and a ship piloted by the Maquis, merge together as it will take nearly 75 years to get back into Federation space.
This series brough all kinds of new places for the franchise to go.  Rather than rely on the normal space races, Voyager’s distance from anything remotely charted allowed them to create all the strange jelly creatures they wanted.
Cpt. Janeway was an amazing woman.  Not my favorite of the captains, but amazing nevertheless.  She brokered a temporary treaty with the Borg when they attempted to assimilate a species only knows as Species 8472 which was amazingly powerful and had the ability to destroy Borg cubes in seconds, she helped to unassimilate a Borg female known as Seven of Nine (A Borg I wouldn’t mind assimilating myself.  I’m not too sure what that means though.  I’d like to…Implant her with my…Cyber wang?  I’m not good at this) and she successfully argued for the humanity and sentience of the hologramatic doctor on board her ship.
If anything, Janeway showed more compassion and honesty than any other captain through her ability to properly show her feelings and not be afraid to act upon them.  Kirk’s passion was right next to the phaser on his belt, Picard always wanted a son, but balked at Wesley Crusher looking up to him, and Sisko, while loving his son and showing affection in the privacy of their quarters, was quick to anger and his eyes would flash when you went against him.  Janeway was more than their captain, she was their mother.

archerEnterprise. The first Scott Backula captain!
I’ll just say right now that I’ve never seen an episode of Enterprise.  I’ve tried to read the Wikipedia page on it, and it’s convoluted and confusing.  Therefore, I will substitute my own plot and story.
Jumping out of the year 2015 after helping Liza Minelli discover the fountain of youth and quaffing a few cups of his own, his life span is increased by centuries, allowing him to jump far into the future.  Spending a few years hopping around the galaxy helping a Vulcan find love and a Flibridin find a soul through genetic mutations, he finds himself piloting the first Warp 5 starship in the Federation.  His companion Al shows up says that Ziggy gives a 90% chance that Sam needs to find a way to break the hold the Vulcans secretly keep over the Earth.
Oh Boy…
There it is.  My captain rundown.  Love it or not, a lot of research has gone into this.  Many hours of wikipedia and many more wonderful hours of my life in the past watching and drinking it in.  Regardless of your own favorite, they have entertained me, and I have loved them all.
For your entertainment and to further prove my love of DS9, i give you a link to the Ferengi rules of Acquisition: http://www.sjtrek.com/trek/rules/

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