Star Trek Magazine, Issue #30, will be out on November 9, and StarTrek.com has an exclusive preview straight from the editor’s desk. Check it out:
The lead feature in the latest issue of Star Trek Magazine examines the bad boys who have populated the Star Trek universe. Do the means justify the ends? This preview from the article gets the big debate moving...
The successful operation of Starfleet depends on a strict adherence to rules and regulations, an understanding of and compliance to command structure and the obedience of orders from superior officers. Except, of course, when it doesn't.
Several of Starfleet's finest, even legendary, figures have been known to disregard rules from time to time. James Kirk certainly falls into this category, with a longtime reputation for flouting authority and taking bold, even aggressive action at the slightest provocation, regardless of the consequences. However, a careful examination of his career shows that even when Kirk disregards Starfleet's highest law, the Prime Directive, it's never for aggrandizement. Be it rescuing a stagnant civilization caught in the grip of oppressive rule ("The Return of the Archons," "A Taste of Armageddon," "A Piece of the Action," "Bread and Circuses," or "The Apple"), or acting to thwart an enemy's attempts to undermine a budding society ("Friday's Child" or "A Private Little War"), Kirk always acts for what he believes to be a greater good. In the eyes of some, this makes him an amoral rebel, whereas others see him simply as "unconventional."
In contrast, Jean-Luc Picard often is regarded as one who always follows the rules, or at the very least is more thoughtful and restrained with respect to stepping outside the parameters of protocol and duty. Of course, as a younger man, Picard was more carefree, most notably by eschewing tradition and leaving the family home and vineyard for a career in Starfleet. It wasn't until the Academy's venerable groundskeeper, Boothby, took the young cadet into his stewardship that Picard truly started down the path to maturity. Even then, overconfidence and even recklessness came to the fore on occasion, such as him being unafraid to charge outnumbered into a fight with Nausicaans ("Tapestry"), an action which ended with him stabbed through the heart and requiring an artificial replacement. That event is viewed by many - including Picard himself - as a turning point in his life, after which he developed a more introspective nature.
Picard's later reputation for deliberate judgment and action often serve him well, especially during occasions where he finds himself forced to set aside the rules to accomplish his mission and protect his ship and crew. Showing the primitive Edo that the aliens they worship aren't gods ("Justice"), helping someone in distress in defiance of non-interference directives ("Pen Pals," "Homeward"), or defying Starfleet and even the Federation itself in defense of the seemingly helpless Ba'ku (Star Trek: Insurrection) Picard demonstrates a willingness to defy the letter of the law in order to uphold its spirit. While certainly not as impulsive or cocky as Jim Kirk might've been in similar situations, Picard still comes across - on occasion - as a bit of a rogue when required by circumstances.
Like Nick Locarno, the character he had played on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Robert Duncan McNeill's new character, Tom Paris had a tainted past. In this preview of an interview in the latest Star Trek Magazine, the actor shares his thoughts on the differences and similarities between the two characters...
"Fundamentally there's a huge difference between the two of them," notes McNeill. "Nick Locarno was somebody who appeared to be a really good guy to the Starfleet teachers, faculty and staff, but deep down was a rotten guy. I think Tom Paris was the complete opposite of that. He appeared to be a little rotten on the outside, but was really a good guy underneath it all. Initially, Voyager's creators might have conceived the character to be very much like Nick Locarno, but it became clear to me quite early on that he had to be very different.
"Nick Locarno was someone who was there for one story and to serve a very brief purpose. But for Tom Paris to last, as well as be relevant, he had to be a real hero and a character who, underneath all his warts, faults and weaknesses, was someone that viewers would want to come back to every week. That's why I felt it was necessary to bring a sense of humor to Paris. To me, Star Trek was its most successful whenever it had a bit of irony and tongue-in-cheek quality along with a sense of fun and adventure. So I tried to bring the spirit of that into everything I did, even if it wasn't scripted."
Starfleet officers and rebel Maquis have no choice but to put aside their differences and join forces when they are stranded 75 thousand light years from home at the end Voyager's pilot episode "Caretaker." For Tom Paris, it means a second chance; he is awarded a Starfleet field commission to lieutenant by Captain Janeway and appointed Voyager's chief helmsman. It is, however, far from a smooth ride for him, and it takes a while for Tom to earn the respect of his captain and shipmates.
"What was really important for our show was that this mismatched group of people came together with their strengths and became a team," says McNeill. "That was a challenge, though, with Tom Paris, because he was initially meant to be a lone wolf. So I looked for opportunities to showcase his value as a team player.
"That began in the pilot with Harry Kim [Garrett Wang], where I wanted to show Tom as being sort of the wiser, older brother to this character. Even if it was lightly scripted, I tried my best to emphasize that while Tom might look like he doesn't care about anybody else, he actually does care about Harry, who's a little less experienced and needs a bit of help. The more I did that, the more, I think, our writers started writing to it.
"Something else I feel was unique about Tom was the fact that he was kind of a down-to-earth straight talker. With all the technobabble, sci-fi talk and complicated stories and situations, I tried to be the one who had a sense of plain speak and be a little folksy with my character."
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