May 16, 2013

Who is the greatest 'Star Trek' captain of them all?

By Wendy Almeida walmeida@mainetoday.com
Assistant News Editor/Features

I am a "Star Trek" fan, but I don't claim to be a die-hard one, because I have not loved every incarnation of the series.

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Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk

Additional Photos Below

My all-time favorite "Star Trek" captain is Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) from "The Next Generation." His compassionate logic and wit as well as his sense of fairness have always been appealing to me.

I never cared much for Capt. James T. Kirk's (William Shatner) jump-in-and-think-later cowboy style. It guess I have always wanted to believe our leadership would be smarter than that in the future.

Besides Kirk, I believe another reason for not loving the original series is that I am of the "Star Wars" generation of special effects. Kirk's starship was pretty cheesy, and although I liked the concept ("Beam me up!" has held a lot of appeal over the years), the execution was not so great. As an adult, I understand the political undertones of why "Star Trek" was an important show in the '60s and the reasons it became a cult classic. But it still doesn't make me like Kirk any better.

I started watching "The Next Generation" in my teens, and rarely missed an episode. When "Deep Space Nine" and Capt. Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) debuted during the final season of "TNG," I watched both.

I liked "Deep Space Nine," in large part because it was different from "TNG" and the starship fleet, yet had lots of familiar similarities to keep this fan hooked. Sisko did a lot more yelling and losing his cool than his previous captain counterparts, but I liked his passion for taking care of people. Still, he wasn't my Earl Grey-drinking Jean-Luc.

I got caught up in "Voyager" initially because I was excited that a woman would be taking the helm.

With the inclusion of the Borg (a favorite story line of mine because of its epic introduction to the series) and Capt. Kathryn Janeway's (Kate Mulgrew) capable style, humor and endearing coffee addiction, she holds the second-favorite captain spot in my book.

By the time "Enterprise" rolled out, I was knee-deep in raising children, and there wasn't much time for watching. That said, I did occasionally tune in, because I had been a "Quantum Leap" fan, and wanted to see how Scott Bakula would do as Capt. Jonathan Archer.

I was not as engaged in the back story of the Federation (and it was hard for me to catch up on the story when I missed a few episodes). Instead, I found myself wondering when Dr. Sam Beckett would leap out of the ship. But I think that was just my issue. Bakula did a respectable job as captain.

I will be going to see the new "Star Trek" movie with my teenage daughters, because they too enjoy science fiction and the type of complex storytelling the genre offers.

But what is really drawing my kids to the movie is the casting of their beloved BBC "Sherlock" series' star, Benedict Cumberbatch. He might be the bad guy in this movie, but he's part of the reason I'm looking forward to seeing it too.

So sorry, Chris Pine -- despite your second movie appearance at the helm as Kirk, you aren't the captain for me either.

You may test that assumption at your convenience.

Wendy Almeida is assistant news editor for features.

 

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Additional Photos

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Avery Brooks as Capt. Benjamin Sisko

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Kate Mulgrew as Capt. Kathryn Janeway

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Scott Bakula as Capt. Jonathan Archer



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