As a follow up to some Star Trek TV sketching we did months ago, Julia and I did more sketch nights of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a favourite of Julia’s that I wasn’t so familiar with.


When Star Trek: TNG was first broadcast, in the late 1980s, I was working in Asia and Europe; countries where I couldn’t understand television anyway and therefore didn’t own a TV. By the time I’d moved to the USA and eventually got a TV of my own in the mid-90s, TNG was in reruns and I finally caught an episode or two, but I only watched it in earnest in this past year. It’s hard not to make comparisons between the original Star Trek and TNG, and the obvious differences between the two leading men. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is certainly not the Horn-dog hot-head that Captain James T. Kirk was. Picard’s style is more the thoughtful philosopher king than the wenching warrior king of Kirk’s day. Whereas Kirk would strip down to his red tights at a moment’s notice and flex his beefcake body tone to get hearts aflutter, if Picard works any magic on the ladies at all, it is with his thoughtful manner and deep Shakespearean toned voice.


Starfleet has become very PC since Kirk’s strutting rooster days in the 23rd century.. was it perhaps rocked by a sex scandal? Or was the Federation of Planets embroiled in the PC WARS of the early 24th century? While it’s fun to retcon the story itself, this change reflected a real-world attitude shift. By the late 1980s, tawdry sex scandals had become commonplace- there was Jimmy Swaggart’s shenanigans and Gary Hart’s, and the capper; Nelson Rockefeller dying on TOP of his assistant. Suddenly, the idea of a smug lover-boy leader was getting older than Ted Kennedy. Apparently, Roddenberry initially wanted an updated Kirk-type macho man to be the new Captain, but was persuaded to go in a different path for TNG, and just as well, because a few seasons after TNG was launched, Tail-Hook and the tawdry Clinton years meant that a Horn Dog in command was no longer appealing, and a charming rogue now seemed a shallow pig. Casting someone who projected integrity above all things was the right choice.

Worf fucked up..

The go-go boots, mini skirts and beehive hairdos of classic 1960s Star Trek have been replaced in TNG by unisex jumpsuits and a starship interior that is cool and slick, yet somehow reminds me of the Burbank Marriott. Some of the old Starfleet rules seem to have changed too. I thought a starship captain wore a gold tunic, but Picard wears red. Perhaps you wear the colour of your background speciality; blue for sciences, gold for helm/navigation and red for operations? Whereas Kirk was promoted to Captain from being a helmsman, was Picard was once a security red-shirt? As we all know, the life expectancy of any red-shirt is very brief, so Picard was clearly a badass to have survived many an away-team long enough to go bald. Perhaps he was simply given his own starship captaincy as the first ever red-shirt to live past the age of 55.


The character that typifies TNG is Counsellor Troi. While Kirk was the quintessential Space Captain as imagined by cold war 1960s writers, Counsellor Troi is the definitive feel-good alien tea-leaf psychic cum human resources lady as imagined by writers in the PC 1980s. Troi is a “Betazoid empath”; a being with the psychic ability to intuit something clearly obvious from the action you’ve already seen;  “I sense great anger in the leader of the alien vessel that just opened fire, Captain.” (Psychic characters sound interesting but suck the fun out of stories if they really have power, and inevitably, Obi-Wan/Gandalf are killed off, so that Luke/Frodo have stuff to actually do. OR, as with Troi, their powers must be limited.) Half-baked though her powers may be, apparently they’re very important in the 24th century, as Troi gets her own chair on the bridge right next to the Captain. Or perhaps Starfleet has placed her there to keep an eye on Picard and other authority figures, like a Zampolit political officer in the Soviet Army? From her post on the bridge, Troi ensures that the officers behave themselves and the holo-deck is always used appropriately; for 3D reenactments of Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes, and not holo-porn.


Each Star Trek spinoff series has a character that is not human, but who the show writers use as a foil to explore human-ness. In classic 1960s Star Trek this role was filled by Spock, and In TNG it is Data, an android with a Pinocchio complex who is fascinated by humans. He is an amazing piece of tech; a synthetic human designed with an astonishing attention to detail in some areas and not in others. While Data’s designers took great care to give him lifelike human eye-bags, they thought that giving him the pasty pallor of a corpse was near-enough good-enough. Each of the various Star Trek shows also has a crew member who represents the ’enemy’ of the show prior. Borg-babe 7-of-9 is a crew member of Star Trek: Voyager even though the Borg were Starfleet’s enemies in TNG. Lieutenant Worf is a crew member in TNG even though Klingons were Jim Kirk’s deadly enemies previously. Pavel Chekov was a crew member on the original Enterprise, even though the audience at home in the mid 1960s feared the Russians more than anything else. This idea, that our enemies of yesterday will become our friends tomorrow, may be a likeable notion, though I don’t really know if it is true. Will there ever be an Al Quaeda or ISIS officer on the bridge of future Star Trek Spinoffs? We shall have to wait and see..


Back in the 23rd century, Captain Kirk travelled that part of the galaxy with toga-wearing aliens and intelligent gas clouds from end to end, and in the 24th century Captain Picard explores that further quadrant of space where everyone has a lumpy forehead. It turns out that wherever Starfleet goes, everyone speaks English already. In the 23rd century, Pavel Chekov had a Russian accent (of sorts) but by the 24th century, Jean-Luc Picard has no French accent at all. Supposedly, it’s because the French language has died out by then. This is where the optimism of Star Trek becomes something else; the smug idea that in time, everyone will inevitably become just like us. It turns out that we can assimilate just as implacably and efficiently as the Borg.

18 thoughts on “Sketch Trek: THE NEXT GENERATION”

  1. I think I’ve mentioned that I’m pretty much a Classic Trek trekkie (you can throw the Animated series in, plus The Wrath of Khan…), and you do a great job of highlighting the differences in concept that separate it and its heirs. You also did a drawing of my favorite Kirk fight move, the 2-handed ax-chop to the back! (Okay, the flying kick was a great one too…)

    • I see I once commented on both of these Star Trek Captain’s logs! As an avowed Trekkie even today (Original Series and immediate offshoots–e.g. original cast–only, please!) I must now defend my faith (and my Captain): Captain Kirk was no galactic “strutting rooster”! This myth is a creation of popular culture and media, and a closer examination of Original Series Trek is hereby called for.

      I love this essay (below), written by an obvious Trekkie who knows her stuff, which debunks the notion of “Kirk and the Green Women”. It not only examines 60s Trek, but also how we read media, and how it gets distorted. It’s a little long-ish, but when you have time for it I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Ha YES! The cultural memory of Kirk is somewhat different from how the character actually was. Perhaps it is simply the bevy of babes in go-go boots & mini skirts in TOS that leaves that lasting impression of sex?

      ..and the fact that old Jim liked to get his shirt off at every opportunity:

      My pal made a similar argument to yours years ago. Mind you, he was the same fellow who made the observation that part of the appeal of J.T. Kirk (to a 60s audience) was that he was essentially JFK in space. So even he admitted to a certain roguish sexuality being the character’s appeal? Anyway, I stand by ‘strutting rooster’. Whether or not he shags anybody, JTK is definitely the swaggering alpha of the Enterprise NCC-1701 barnyard.

      I’ve often noticed that the versions of cultural artifacts in my head are not always 100% accurate. I go back and watch something that left a lasting impression, and realize much of what I remember is my own curdled memories. Kirk has been an icon for so long that he has been lampooned and referenced so often, and the fermentation is all the more ripe.

      That is why “culture” is such an appropriate word. It acknowledges that it is constantly becoming something different. Like a yeast culture, it will change over time. “Sexy” JTK seems to have become cannon in the New Trek retcon, but coexists with the version you like. Culture is a veritable multiverse. Choose your fave Kirk, Batgirl, Doctor Who, Lizzie Bennet, Superman, Tarzan, or Macbeth for that matter. There are so many reinterpretations, and it never ends. I actually like that!

      Thanks for commenting Russell!

    • Thanks for reading my ramblings, Wendy! And for commenting too. Back when I did these, I was pretty much a shut-in, so skethcing from the telly was a big part of my drawing practice.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.