Friday, August 27, 2010

Star Trek: The "Alternate" Generation!

Our pals over at Ain't It Cool News posted a link a couple of days ago that led to a 1987 memo which detailed the casting possibilities for the upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation series, the first of several spin-offs of the classic original Gene Roddenberry space epic.

One thing that always bothered me was the casting of stentorian British thespian Patrick Stewart as the French Jean-Luc Picard. I mean why didn't they cast a French actor? Well it appears that they at least came close to doing so. Belgian actor Patrick Bauchau may not be familiar to many of you, but he has been a reliable presence on some good genre television shows such as The Pretender and Carnivale and he appeared as the main henchman to Christopher Walken's lead villain in Roger Moore's swansong as 007 in "A View To A Kill".

As peculiar as the casting of a British man as a Frenchman seemed to me twenty years ago, I have to say that I've always disliked some of the cast of ST:TNG, and particularly Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher. She was weak from start to finish in the role and I much preferred the Diana Muldaur second season fill-in role of Dr. Pulaski better. However, hold the fort, it seems that Logan's Run/An American Werewolf in London veteran and all-around 1970's cutie (& British) Jenny Agutter was considered for the part of Crusher. What were they thinking? I would have given it to her in a heartbeat.

Lt. Tasha Yar bought the farm very early in the first season of ST:TNG (thank god), basically nothing against Denise Crosby's turn as Yar, but that character sucked from the get go. Two Asian-American actresses that were originally up for the role of Yar would have been far superior - granted in my own opinion - but here in the Catacombs it's the only one that truly matters. Rosalind Chao and Julia Nickson would have lent that role a nice bit of exotic appeal and for my money, Lt. Yar could have then survived the goop-monsters attack that ultimately killed her off.

Now out of all the other possibilities mentioned in that AICN post (go read for yourselves), the only other one that really fascinates me would have been "seeing" Wesley Snipes as Geordi LaForge. Man wouldn't the chief engineer of the Enterprise 1701-D been one butt-kicking blind dude. That would have been all kinds of awesome (and I actually liked Levar Burton as Geordi).

Just a few things to file away in the might have been category!


Daniel [] said...

I didn't watch much of ST:tNG, but one bit that I caught was when there was a reference to French language, and Data began to explain to Picard that French was dead. An irritated Picard cut him off.

Of course, a distinctive French accent could none-the-less endure, much as there is an Irish accent even though most with it know relatively little Irish Gaelic.

I didn't watch much of ST:tNG because it quickly alienated me. I felt that it took some of the worst aspects of the original series, expressing Roddenberry's amateur philosophizing and sexual fantasies, and amplified them (as was possible in a climate of greater tolerance for such things). I was told that it got much better after Roddenberry's passing, but I wasn't moved to watch much more of it.

Chuck Wells said...

ST:TNG actually didn't start becoming "watchable" until late in the fourth season, if I'm remembering correctly. About the time that Wil Wheaton's "Wesley Crusher" character was written out, I thought that the show was finally getting its legs.

Wesley was another character that I absolutely hated from the beginning, but by the time he left, he had become one of the better realized characters. After his departure, only Worf and Data received ongoing & substantial character development (Picard to a lesser degree). For the most part, everyone else on the show was pretty superfluous.

I think that's why so many people responded favorably to Michelle Forbes "Ro Laren" character. She only appeared in eight episodes, but at least she was interesting and not duller than hell during her all-too brief stay on TNG. Riker, Dr. Crusher, and Troi were all vastly underutilized. They should have left Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) in the throwback mini-skirt that she wore in her first episodic appearance since she was really only "eye-candy" on the show.