All Good Things… must come to an end, and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s journey into high-definition concluded on December 2 with the release of the Star Trek: the Next Generation – Season Seven Blu-ray and the Star Trek: The Next Generation – All Good Things Blu-ray. The seven season collections and the various feature-length presentations of popular two-part TNG episodes wowed viewers with their remarkable clarity, new documentaries, deleted scenes, gag reels, commentaries and more. Only a relative handful of people associated with The Next Generation could say they were there at the start and at the finish, and one of them was John de Lancie. As the pesky Q, he appeared in the pilot, several times over the ensuing seasons and once last time in "All Good Things…" StarTrek.com spoke with the actor the other day – about TNG, the Blu-ray technology and his current projects – and here’s what he had to say.
If we told you 20 years ago that Star Trek would still be a part of your life, so far as conventions and promoting Blu-rays, would you have believed it or not? After all, even then conventions were happening and Star Trek was coming out in the latest high-tech iteration of its day…
De Lancie: Of course, I’m omnipotent, right? I knew about all of this stuff. No. No, no, no. No, no. Star Trek is the gift that keeps on giving. It is the touchstone for what every other show would like to have as their legacy -- and it’s quite extraordinary. And it’s made even more so when you think that, for TNG, I only did seven or eight episodes.
The upgrades done for the Blu-rays are remarkable. Did you feel it was like watching the shows for the first time? And, enhancements aside, how well do the episodes hold up?
De Lancie: The technology is amazing. I have a large television and it’s a little startling. It really looks terrific. I wish that technological could extend into real life so that I would look somewhat like I did back that, but that isn’t the case. And I do think the episodes, especially “All Good Things…,” really hold up. That was a difficult one when you consider that it was so highly anticipated. I think it delivered, other than the fact that they said “anomaly” too many times. I thought it was a really, really good show.
Did you feel that way at the time? We ask because Generations was in production at the same time as “All Good Things…,” and there was a sense at the studio and on the set that the finale was written very quickly and worked, but by the skin of its teeth…
De Lancie: You know what? I was outside of that loop. I wasn't in Generations, so for me, “All Good Things…” was THE show. And, for me, because my job is somewhat myopic, in a way… I’m only tracking what I’m doing, and even then I don’t have real control of it… I looked at each scene as an opportunity to polish up a facet that had been etched already or lay down a new facet on my little Q stone. So, in that respect, while I didn’t have a lot to do, I felt each scene progressed my character, the arc and the story in a really nice way. So I was happy about it then and to this day, looking at it again, now, I still go, “That all holds up.”
Back when you got the call to do “All Good Things…,” were you at all surprised or was it only logical to you in the sense that Q was there in “Encounter at Farpoint” and it was wise to close the circle with him returning for the finale?
De Lancie: I didn’t know whether or not I was going to be involved. As I’ve explained in the past, (with acting) it’s somebody else’s dinner party. You can spend a lot of time hoping you’re going to get invited and wondering why you’re not. In my case, I knew that there’d be a dinner party that was called the last episode, and I didn’t know if I’d be involved. Then I got a call saying, “You are going to be involved,” and I said, “Oh, great.” Then, like all the other shows that you do, you wait – anxiously in this case – to find out, “Am I going to really be happy being involved in it?” For me, I think the episodes with Q worked best when the story was really big, and this was a really big story that my involvement meant something to on a philosophical level. It was a weighty script in that respect, so I was just really pleased.
Q taught Jean-Luc Picard a few things over the years. What would you like to think Q learned from his encounters with Picard and the Enterprise crew?
De Lancie: That’s a really interesting question…. I would say empapthy. I don’t think that the character started off with much empathy. I remember in that traveling shot as I’m leaving, and I remember some of my thought processes back then. And I was thinking, as the character, “As much of a jerk as I might be, I really like these guys and I want to take care of them and I want them to succeed.” And that was as opposed to where I started, which was, “I don’t like them. What are you doing here?”
What are you working on these days?
De Lancie: I did a (episode of) The Mentalist and I did a movie in New Orleans that was a lot of fun. It’s called Mind Puppets. I’m also working on another project that’s… how do I put this? I’m very concerned about how fundamentalist religion has insinuated itself into the science classroom. So I am working on a series of animations, which are only 60 seconds long, that deal with evolution in all of its most wondrous ways, so as to be able to hand these off to science teachers all around the country as the beginning, as the little spark, the little talking points that get us onto the subject of, frankly, the greatest story ever told, which is how we are all connected and how everything on this planet is part of everything else, how we’ve discovered all of that and how we continue to discover it. I’m just in the beginning of all of this, but it’s taking up a lot of my time.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Seventh Season Blu-ray and Star Trek: The Next Generation – All Good Things Blu-ray are available now at Amazon.com. Click HERE and HERE to purchase.