The ‘Wonder Women’ of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’
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In 1966, when Gene Roddenberry launched his original ‘Wagon Train To The Stars’, Star Trek‘s creator put a feminine presence on his Enterprise bridge, and more importantly, in command, along with Captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock. Number One – played by Majel Barrett – served as Pike’s first officer and appeared in the pilot, ‘The Cage’, but after NBC ordered another pilot, the enigmatic Number One disappeared. Spock became first officer, or 2nd in command to a newly minted Captain, James T. Kirk, played by legendary William Shatner.
Star Trek completed a three season run, and though characters such as Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Yeoman Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) figured prominently, even ground breaking in the science fiction series, it wasn’t until 1987’s spin-off, Star Trek: The Next Generation, where female officers – including ship’s Chief Medical Officer and Security Chief – would be truly front and center. These ladies not only boasted several of the highest Starfleet command ranks, but Dr. Crusher would be the only officer capable of relieving Captain Jean-Luc Picard of duty, or anyone else if she deemed them unfit to carry out their professional Starfleet obligations.
From an emotionally charged empath whose psychic powers traversed two distinct worlds to a super fit, super trained athlete who’d give Diana a run for her money in the Aikido exercise program on Enterprise D’s Holodeck, here are just a few of the wonderful women of TNG.
Dr. Beverly Crusher – Gates McFadden
“Medical Emergency! Beam directly to Sickbay!” It may not have been as catchy as ‘He’s dead, Jim’ or ‘I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker!’ but Dr. Crusher’s catchphrase has advantage of TNG’s higher tech which brought more than a few patients sparkling into materialization directly into her professional offices.
Beverly Crusher’s deceased husband, Jack, was good friends with Captain Picard. Also, having her son Wesley (Wil Wheaton) on board for her new tour of duty meant interacting with more than merely a superior officer. In TNG’s future spanning finale, ‘All Good Things’, it’s revealed Crusher and Picard eventually got married – then later, they divorced. So, all those years on Enterprise working together amounted to more than simple professional interactions.
Crusher’s light bedside manner was notable, with perhaps her most comic moment of all in Star Trek: First Contact, when she calls on her holographic colleague to create a diversion for rampaging Borg. Summoning holo Doc, Crusher tells him to, ‘Do a dance, tell a story… just give us a few seconds!’ – as Borg are about to break down the door to Sickbay. “I’m a doctor, not a door stop.’ protests the hologram, played by Voyager’s Robert Picardo.
Actress Gates McFadden always asked for more realistic Trek tech training on her medical props – so as to heighten a sense of engagement for her character performance and the fans.