Marc Alan Fishman: Kirk Vs. Picard – I’m Ready to Choose
A few months back, I declared that I found a love for Star Trek. Not just a passing affair mind you, but a legit love of the original series. As if all my tendencies towards being a CGI snob who once laughed-out-loud at the low-tech original FX suddenly melted away. And why? One man. Captain James Tiberious Kirk. The lightbulb went off. I got it. Beyond the ethics lessons, morality plays, and hilarious fight scenes… this was a show where the Captain didn’t just chew the scenery; this was a show that banked on Kirk to cook with it too.
This is in direct opposition to the mission statement of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I should note whilst laid up in my house this past weekend (with still-not-cured tendonitis) I consumed a great deal of TNG episodes. Thank you, BBC America. And thanks to the crash-course reminder, it became clear just how different a beast TNG really was from its elder counterpart. Take away the CGI, beautiful sets, and truly amazing make-up work? You get a show near devoid of the pulpy roots of TOS. You still get the ethics and moral dilemmas. So too, do you get occasional hilarious fights. But TNG’s Captain Du Jour chews not even the seat where he sits. And because of it, I see how many a Trekkie sets their allegiance to a thespian who lends gravitas to a role once dominated by the clinical definition of over-acting.
After making my way through roughly half the original series, I find myself ready to make the ultimate choice. Given that I’ve seen about the same amount of The Next Generation, I think it’s time to choose my captain. It’s only fair though (and a great way to waste column inches…) to come up with some categories to compare and contract Johnny Loo to Jimmy Tibby.
Obviously these are my opinions. Based on not watching every televised piece of either show. Nor all the movies. Nor the licensed books, comics, etc. This is strictly my gut opinions.
Space Fighting: Let’s face it. The first and foremost thing a captain should be able to do is use his ship in a fight. Kirk’s Enterprise didn’t come with an onboard android, or Klingon weapon expert. Just a sassy Vulcan, and a fencing Japanese dude. Picard always seems ready for diplomacy. Kirk seems almost to beg for a fight. And let’s not forget he beat the unbeatable training sim. Phaser to my head? Kirk wins.
Space Talking: Before a photon torpedo is sent a-wassailing into the nearest Warbird, sometimes you have to get your debate on. In Star Trek, all-too-often (and rightfully so) the issues of the day were best solved with smart repartee rather than fisticuffs and rabble-rousing. Kirk knows his way around the diplomacy manual all well and good, but Picard was a born talker. And let’s face facts: If you’re facing a dude ready to blow up a planet because it’s in your way? Who would you send in to talk him down? Unless he responds…. only… to… rhythmic…talking… then you know who has your back. Picard for the win.
Dealing With The Ladies: OK. Seriously. Is this even a competition here? Now, first, let me ensure you if this were a Janeway Vs. Other Male Captain fight, I’d be an equal opportunity chauvinist here. Fact is, sometimes a captain needs to show some cajones, and make the space oceans move. Because the final frontier totally means green alien wicky-wicky. The winner? No duh: Kirky Kirk Kirk.
Crew Relations: In between all the alien issues, wacky hijinks, and ship malfunctions… A captain and his crew must be a tight community all working towards the same ends. The best captains know how to delegate tasks, keep conflicts down, and ultimately keep the space-peace preserved on what amounts to a star-faring cruise ship with lasers and missles. Kirk and Spock have a friendship and bromance like very few do. Picard and Riker have always held more of a teacher / student vibe. That in and of itself lends to how I feel TNG’s Enterprise views their highest in command. Picard is the teacher, mentor, and solid voice of the ship. Kirk feels more blue collar in contrast. In between making out with various crew members, debating hard choices with his number one and ship doctor, and threatening to blow up the ship at any chance he can get? Kirk always gives me the impression of the “lead by example” school of thought. Not that Picard won’t get his hands dirty… but frankly he rarely needs to given the loyalty of his crew. Choices, choices, choices. I’m gonna give it to Picard.
The X Factor: Frankly there could be whole weeks worth of columns in this debate. Certainly the internet was built in part to link Trekkies together to squabble over the finer points. Beyond the broad strokes, every good captain needs that special something that makes you want to follow them. Makes you believe in them. It’s why (beyond crappy politiking) we choose our own leaders; we want to put ourselves behind a person we believe has our backs and best concerns in mind. Someone who doesn’t lose sight of the big picture when the little picture threatens to wipe it away. Kirk is a fearless fighter with a glint in his eye, and a permanent smirk. In the face of adversity he is apt to ball a fist, scream to the heavens, and then win the day by any means necessary. Picard is no less brave mind you. He is apt to think through all the scenarios. He’ll consult his android for logic, his counselor for emotional insight, and his magic bar-tender for conscience. And then? He’ll do what he was going to do all along because damnit… He’s Picard. When the chips are down, and I need one man to get me out of a pickle? Well, I have to give it to the man who doesn’t waste time making a choice. Kirk takes it.
So, there you have it, kiddos. I’m a Kirk man. Kirkman. Uh-oh. Crap. No! I don’t like Kirkman that much! He’s ok at doing homage, but he’s mostly just spinning his wheels these days. KHAAAAAAAAAAN! Ahem. Seriously though, while I love both Captains near equally, it boils down to Kirk’s brash and boldness. His pulp roots have broken me down such that I can’t not root for him. Case in point? The real reason I’m gonna choose Kirk? “Requiem For Methuselah.” In the episode, Kirk is introduced to a very pretty little thing. He looks at her, and basically it’s enough to make her break free from her genetic encoding (she turned out to be a robot or clone or clonebot or something). Facts are facts: Kirk is so awesome, his gaze alone causes space panties to fly.
And frankly? That’s boldly going where we all want to go.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell