Holodeck Stories of Win!

This week’s Trek post (it’ll stop soon, it will) is about the most reviled genre of Trek story: the Holodeck episode. after copious and diligent research,* there are three main reasons I’ve found that makes this Trek genre beat out even the dreaded One Episode Romance as Worst Trek Genre:

1) It’s considered lazy writing (almost all decent Holodeck stories get their drama from something other then “our cool toy broke again and might kill us, again”)
2) It destroys one’s suspension of disbelief. If, say, one in a million times they were played video games exploded and killed the gamer, PEOPLE WOULD NOT BE SO KEEN TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES, also the people who make video games would be under QUITE A BIT OF PRESSURE to stop their games killing people if they wished to continue making them. There would not be a verbal command that could be disabled and allow people to get their games to kill them.
3) No, really, the writing is often bollocks. And since this is Star Trek, supposedly about strange new worlds and civilisations and the majesty of humanity and our desire to explore and understand the cosmos, it’s a bit of a letdown when the story’s about how badly future video games are programmed.

HOWEVER, while it would be easy and a bit delightful to rip into the worst of the worst and explain at length why no television series deserves Fair Haven, that’s not what this post is about. Oh no! We are here to CELEBRATE this maligned genre. Why? Cause there are great Holodeck stories hidden amongst the dreck, enough even for a short list. Here they are, in descending order of greatness**:

6) The Big Goodbye – “What?! But this is a terrible story.” Yes. Sort of. Except for context. Sure you watch this now and you want to hide behind your shiny cushions, and feel like someone’s stabbed you with a bat’leth every time there’s a Holodeck cliche, but imagine watching this in the late eighties and amidst the general dreck of season one TNG; lo and behold, it stands out as being Vaguely Competent. Sure, this isn’t going to be on anyone’s Top Ten TNG list (oh God, it’s not, is it? I bet it is, I JUDGE YOU POTENTIAL BIG GOODBYE TOP TENNER), but it comes up with all the AMAZING PLOT TWISTS (safeties off! Holograms find out about real world! Holograms discover they’re holograms!”) we grow to hate and loathe over the next fifteen years. Wait…that’s a bad thing, isn’t it? Um, anyway, the Dickson Hill thing is pretty neat, look at Patrick Stewart, acting away! And it won an Emmy, don’t you know? For costumes, which are tbf pretty nifty. The whole noir thing is actually really well done, it’s just the story beats were imitated so many times that it rather spoils the one time where it was all original. But anyway, it’s not a bad episode, especially for early TNG.

5) Elementary, Dear Data – I know, I know, it’s Brent Spiner mugging it up as Sherlock Holmes. It has the daftest plot device of TNG so far (probably not, but let’s pretend) as with a single wrong word Geordi gets the Enterprise computer to create NEW and SENTIENT life, thus fueling a bijillion tedious mailing list (look it up, young people) debates on whether the computer is actually sentient or not. AND YET, I love it a lot. And I am happy to argue it’s quite great really. Data and Geordi are not the worst pairing in the history of Trek, and I’ve an enormous soft spot for their Holmes and Watson thing what they do. (I should probably not admit this, but…this was actually my introduction to Sherlock Holmes. Yes, kids, my first Holmes was an American sentient future android sticking on a deerstalker and playing Holmes in a video game.) And with Pulaski on full “fuck off, Data” mode, a smashing dress, and the rather excellent Moriarty, and some moralising that’s nowhere near as heavy as what TNG tends to favour and heh, a winner is you!

4) Hollow Pursuits – I went on a bit last week about why I love this ep, but yeah, it is a good un, and a good Holodeck story too, because instead of it being about the Holodeck safeties malfunctioning (WHY did anyone ever think this was a compelling source of conflict?) it’s used in the way any sensible person would use it: to dress up in fab period costume and swordfight. It should probably be higher than at least one of the the Voyager eps below, but while it’s an episode I identify with, and there are honest to God musketeers in it, it doesn’t make me flail, and the top three do have that magic thingumijiggie that makes me flail. With the awesome. Not sadness.

3) Bride of Chaotica! – There is an exclamation mark in the title. What better way to mark out that this is a PROPER GREAT EPISODE. The only complaints are all the faffing around used to justify the central and awesome premise: Janeway has to pretend to by a thirties sci-fi adventure serial villainess. IT’S SO GOOD. And fun and meta, and of all the things Voyager fucked up, having Paris and Kim mess about playing Captain Proton and Buster Kincaid was not one of them. And here the WHOLE STORY is about a daft Holodeck adventure in ye olde SF serial. Except the pacing isn’t glacial! And there’s rather less racism and sexism! And it’s even in black and white! And Kate Mulgrew is just magic. Oh, Bride of Chaotica, you are the best of them, almost.

2) Worst Case Scenario – Now, I remember getting a bit spoiled re Bride of Chaotica! by TV Zone (a magazine, a paper magazine, from ye olden days – I think it’s still about) so going in I had Expectations, and resented every moment Mulgrew wasn’t hamming it up like a pro. But this one? Not a peep. And that is very definitely the best way to see it. Voyager, as you might know, is not the most compelling of television shows. I don’t want to be ludicrously unfair, but I’m pretty sure I slept through at least two and a half seasons of it. So, given that, it’s always a bit of a shock when an episode comes along and honest to God staples your eyeballs to the television screen. This hooked me right in is what I’m saying. “What the dickens is going on here? I MUST KNOW!” was my deep and insightful through the whole first act. See, we open with B’Elanna just going about her business when Chakotay walks right up and is all “time to takeover the ship! Starfleet is shit, Maquis forever!” And since Voyager OH SO WISELY dropped that dramatic conflict about three hours into the series and this is season three, the viewer is a bit wtf? But in a GOOD WAY. Mutiny happens! Maybe if yer a canny viewer (and while plot twists are almost always a surprise to me no matter how clumsily signposted, I did spot this) might notice B’Elanna’s rank insigna is MIA. And then everything freezes! Literally! Wtf?! Omg, it’s a holodeck adventure! About themselves! If they were more interesting! Anyway, it’s genuinely fun to see the drama restart with a different character playing the part of Young Mutineer and how their choices affect the Exciting Mutiny. And then Tuvok pipes up and spoils it all by saying “dudes, it’s not fun, it’s a security training simulation I wrote during that one morning when we had potential for drama about the fact we’re Maquis and Starfleet on the same ship”. Aw. Oh well. BUT THEN Tuvok and Paris get peer-pressured into writing an ending cause everyone is having so much fun and Seska (main protagonist from seasons one and two, now dead) turns up in Hologram form for REVENGE. And Janeway has to fanfic for Tuvok and Paris’s lives. NOT EVEN KIDDING. It’s magnificent. I love everything about this story. If you’re going to be fucking ludicrous, MAKE IT THIS ENTERTAINING. Oh Seska, you were the best of them.

1) Our Man Bashir – *FLAILS* Right, yeah, so, you know what I was saying about how many rotten Holodeck stories there are? Well, this is the reward for sitting through them all: the sublime and delicious Our Man Bashir. A top episode from a top show, that manages to be ridiculous and wonderful and fun and mean something. There are so many ways it’s great. Now Bashir is our Holodeck Guy on DS9. He’s the one who in one delightful (not smug, or self-indulgent, dammit) scene has the rest of the senior staff list off all the Holodeck programs he’s spent hours playing. Bless his heart. And in this one he is James Bond, and thank goodness we got this because we’re never going to actually get Siddig El Fadil as Bond, but this is almost as good. And he’s playing Bond with actual ex/spy and sort of friend plain simple Garak, and Garak  has FEELINGS about his sort of friend *playing* at his profession. What those feelings actually are is Marvellously Ambiguous. But we do get the most magical scene where Bashir threatens to shoot Garak because Garak is about to risk the lives of the rest of Our Heroes in order to make sure his own is safe. Garak thinks it’s a bluff. And then Bashir DOES shoot him. And misses. And we don’t know if he really meant to miss or it was a bad shot and it is just SO GOOD. And then there are Our Heroes, who for Plot Reasons that are Just An Excuse for Lols trapped in the computer and their physical images are stored in the Holodeck and they have to keep the Holodeck running or else they might be deleted blah blah, let’s stop wasting valuable time technobabbling when we could be back with the Exciting James Bond Adventure in Spaaaaace!! Anyway, the regulars all play the various Bond roles. And standout is Avery Brooks, who is a terrifying Bond villain, and all delightful mad egotism. And he wins! Because Bashir destroys the world. Not actually, only on the Holodeck, but it is very lolsome. Anyway, proper good, top episode.

*  I asked some people on the Internet.
** This is my own special definition of greatness.


Top Ten Star Trek: the Next Generation

I am in the midst of flu. Not serious flu, the sort of flu that makes you feel utterly miserable and your limbs ache and your head floofy, but not actually bad enough that you can’t wander about and complain heartily about your pitiable condition. Anyway, flu, yes. YAY. So it’s making writing a smidgen difficult, and I really hate not to write at all, so I’m making this Very Easy What Could Possibly Go Wrong post about Star Trek: The Next Generation. (I would say as part of an ongoing series of blog posts about Trek to celebrate its fiftieth year, but that would be a lie.) Because I felt I was a bit mean about it in this post. I mean, it IS Beige, dammit, but it’s also telly I’ve watched more times than I care to admit. And really, no-one forced me to watch it. And if you can have a podcast’s worth of conversation about any episode of a 176 episode telly series, it’s got to be doing something right. So here we are, a list of my Top Ten TNG stories.

Now since this is a favourites list, it has the virtue of NEVER BEING WRONG (in the actual proper sense of wrongness, not the way I tell people they’re wrong if they diss the Time Monster (that’s Doctor Who, not Star Trek, but I do assume anyone reading my blog knows too much about Doctor Who – it’s totally cool if you don’t though! It just means you spent your time much more wisely than I)). On the down side, it means having to justify my favourite TNG episodes. Luckily, it’s not like TOS where I have to explain a vast and epic love for Turnabout Intruder. So, without further waffling, my Top Ten TNG Stories (stories, not episodes, so I SLIGHTLY cheat and don’t have to worry about whether part one is better than part two):

“Mr. Worf, dispatch a subspace message to Admiral Hanson. We have engaged the Borg.” – Patrick Stewart imbues what looks like a pretty non-epic line with SRS EPIC EPICNESS. Are there any five words better said in TNG than “we have engaged the Borg”? No. No, there are not.

1) The Best of Both Worlds – the first of no less than five stories on the list from season three, which is weird. I never realised that’s where all my favs lived before. Anyway, tBoBW, the King, the Big Mac, the One Everyone Knows Is Best (and It Is). This is gold standard Trek, the sort of Trek you frame, polish, and stick on the mantlepiece to show off to every poor sod passing through who happens to mention to you that they don’t entirely dislike sci-fi. I could happily sit down with this episode and yourself, gentle reader, and explain in painful detail why just about every scene is amazing. Everything is great: Starfleet’s reaction to the Borg, Shelby, Guinan, the starship graveyard, the sense of doom, the Locutus reveal, the Borg ship fight scenes, “Mr Worf…fire!”, the fact this is an honest-to-God ensemble piece and EVERYONE gets something decent to do, Riker has ACTUAL GOOD SCENES (with Guinan, and Shelby, and Picard, by gum), and we get the beige ending (lol, he sends them to sleep) BUT we get the explosion too. So it’s TNG cake and everyone gets a slice and it is AWESOME. Sometimes I forget how good this story is, but every time it’s on the telly I stop to watch and it’s fucking magic all over again.

2) The Defector – Maybe my actual favourite episode, if only tBoBW wasn’t so gobsmackingly good that it’d be physically painful not to give it the number one spot. “The Defector?!” you might be saying. “Wtf is that?” Well, quite. I can only say you’ve NO TASTE. If on the other hand, you’re nodding sagely at this most excellent decision, well done, I assume you like it when Trek doesn’t fuck over the Romulans. See, the Romulans are my fav Trek species. I love them. And I hate almost every story they’re in because after their superlative two TOS episodes, Trek mostly treats them EXCEEDINGLY BADLY (you want to hear my rant about their TNG film appearances? No, no you don’t; no-one does). But for a little while TNG tried. It really bloody well tried to be good to them. This started in two season three stories, The Enemy (worthy but dull) and The Defector, which is, for me, deliciously stupendously good. Don’t get me wrong, if this was a DS9 episode, it would have teeth, but it’s TNG so there is a fuck of a lot of beige AND YET it’s still magnificent. On the character side we have Picard shit scared he’s going to fuck up and accidentally start a war, and Admiral Jarok, a Romulan war hero who’s disgusted at the thought his leaders are trying to press them towards another fruitless conflict with the Federation. You get Picard teaching Data about humanity and I DON’T WANT THEM THROWN IN A PLAGUE PIT, maybe cause they’re messing about with Henry V, maybe cause it’s actually honest-to-God relevant to the episode and no-one is trying to be COMEDIC. It’s another gloomy (for TNG), tense, episode, and it makes me happy, so happy. Patrick Stewart really is amazing, and the Romulans get to be what they’re supposed to me: a nuanced, credible adversary to the Federation.

3) Q Who – Often my feelings about a part of Trek can be summed up by Enthusiastic Quotation of the Appropriate Era, and Q Who is a perfect example of that. It’s REALLY HARD to think of Picard as beige when he’s speeching at the end. Cause it’s top quality speeching, and it’s top quality Patrick Stewart, and that bit where he’s “I need you, Q!” is punch the air GORGEOUS because it’s TNG being fucking self-aware, and it DOESN’T WORK if the show isn’t pompous and moralising. This episode would be bad DS9 is what I’m saying. The whole thing is Proper Good though, taking the Star Trek opening monologue, finding the strange new civilisation and using it to give Our Heroes a good kick in their smug. There’s also every moment with Picard and Q; those are spiffy. And, yes, the Borg are very cool, and no, I don’t care they changed their raison d’etre between this and tBoBW.

4) Chain of Command – This story is forever etched on my memory as That One Time My Parents Exercised A Little Parental Responsibility Regarding the Science Fiction Watched By Their Children. Mum actually prewatched part two of this one, and made a face of “hmmm” at the idea of me watching it. It didn’t last long; I was a very persistent child. Please bear in mind that this was rated PG and I was eight or so, but there were NO PROBLEMS with preschool me sitting down for a good bit of psychological trauma and nightmarish fun in Wrath of Khan (rated 15) and THOSE BLOODY EAR BUGS. Anyway, Chain of Command. So, yeah, another Picard heavy episode and one which gets a lot of kudos for the dark, intense scenes between Stewart and David Warner. And they are exceedingly good. The Cardassians will end up being arguably the most complex, compelling alien civilisation in Trek, thanks to DS9, but even in these early days when TNG was still on, they’re not slouching. The WWII overtones are heavy, but legit; Warner is old skool villainy: polite, urbane, and monstrous. Again, it’s TNG being a bit grown-up as it ends on a sombre, rather gorgeous scene between Troi and Picard as he confesses that he did break. While the Warner and Stewart stuff is the standout, what’s happening back on the Enterprise is pretty nifty too. We get one of my favourite guest characters, Captain Edward Jellico, who is smart, capable, and does not get along at all with his new senior staff. IT’S SO GOOD. And there’s no softening of the relationship, no mutual admiration in the end or agree to disagree, they just don’t gel. And it’s awesome. Because Jellico is smart enough and capable enough to do the damn job anyway and stop a war.

5) Hollow Pursuits – Another TNG favourite that only really properly works as a TNG – if this were DS9 it would be SEEDY but it’s TNG so it’s all PG-RATED FANTASY YAY. Which means it’s only a little bit creepy instead of a lot. HURRAH! But, yes, I love this because Barclay is VERY VERY ME. I mean, sure, I wanted to be Uhura, then Dax, then…sort of T’Pol? A bit. But REALISTICALLY I didn’t have a shot in this shiny utopian future full of military space scientists. AND THEN THERE WAS BARCLAY. And he was awkward and a dork and painfully shy (that bit where Geordi’s “you’re just shy” and Barclay is “you can’t know”? MY HEART) and shit at stuff and used the Holodeck to pretend he was a musketeer and swordfight and HEARTS IN MY EYES, cause suddenly I GOT TO BE ON THE ENTERPRISE TOO. Sure, my boss would patronise me and the captain would call me a vegetable BUT STILL. And aside from the massive overidentification with Our Hero, it really is a smashing story, the best holodeck story Trek ever did. Probably. I mean Our Man Bashir I love more BUT this is, I admit grudgingly, the better story.

6) Yesterday’s Enterprise – This scared me in the good way when I was a wee nipper. I mean this story got to me, right in the heart, and made me have all these big epic feelings about SPACE and THE FUTURE and DEEEEAAATH. I was, what, about five when this was first on? So I didn’t have the most awesome grip on death, I mean I got it, but,y’know, I didn’t really *get* it. And this story is all about death. Which is a little bit morbid but also marvellously uplifting. Because it’s about how you die and what you’re willing to die for, and what your death can mean. We’ve two ships here, alt!Enterprise-D and the Enterprise-C and by the end of the story they have all chosen to die. The Ent-C backstory we got: at a time when Federation-Klingon relations were edging towards war, Captain Garrett and crew responded to a Klingon distress signal. And it was a Klingon colony under attack by Romulans and her Enterprise went in guns blazing, and died trying to defend them. That gets to me. And God knows I don’t like The Klingons – and here they use what we know about their culture to good effect rather thna making me want to stab needles in the back of my hand – the Klingons considered Garrett’s sacrifice a big honourable act, and so relations between the Federation and Klingons improved blah blah Khitomer Accords, all friends now. And shit, that’s just one tiny part of the story. You’ve also got Tasha Yar back, facing the fact that the ‘real’ her had a meaningless death, and you’ve Picard (who, lolariously, meets with Guinan in the great big conference room, and his entire senior staff in the poky ready room – this is the real reason the Federation is losing the war, NO SPATIAL AWARENESS) deciding he and his dudes are going down to try and get the timeline back to what the crazy lady who tends bar says it is. And Riker dies. SEE THIS STORY IS GREAT.

7) Qpid – SHUSHT. Any Trek story that has a pun in the title is gold. FACT. But, yeah, Qpid. This is awesome. And by awesome, I mean lolarious. Q is IRRITATED cause Picard and his dudes kept him alive when he was mortal and he feel he owes a debt so he wants to do something nice for Picard. And every scene this sparks off between Stewart and de Lancie is as awesome as it should be. And just as you are settling in to enjoy the lols, Picard and crew are transported to SHERWOOD FOREST where they are ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRY MEN, leading to Micheal Dorn’s greatest delivery of all time, bar none, fact: “Sir, I protest, I am not a Merry Man!” Everything about this ridiculousess is AMAZINGSAUCE cause our Starfleet dudes play it straight and are not down with this shit, and Vash gets the eightiest Maid Marian dress of all time, and Picard accidently ends up having a ball cause he gets to swordfight and exchange witty repartee, well, repartee, with a villain, and you sort of wish Q’d stuck around to annoy them every week because omg it’s so much better when he does. (The one irritating note for me is that the men of the Enterprise all get to swordfight for they are manly men, while Crusher and Troi smash pots on people’s heads. They do look pretty thrilled about it BUT STILL.)

8) Face of the Enemy – MORE ROMULANS. And such great Romulans! Carolyn Seymour plays the second greatest Romulan of TNG. And Troi is GREAT. Don’t diss Troi because here she’s everything she could be if the writers bothered, and she is angry and clever and moral and compassionate and it’s just so nice seeing a Troi-ish reaction to a crisis that isn’t “what’s a warp core breach?” or not bothering to write one at all. And lo, more excellent Romulan characterisation, as we get to see some more of their culture and ways of thinking and UNCARDBOARDNESS. Seymour is the soldier pissed off because her society’s intelligence service is shady as shit, and Troi having to play the shady as shit part when she should be more sympathetic to Seymour’s POV is delicious.

9) Unification – I think, though I don’t really know, this was sort of regarded as not bad but a little disappointing? Because it’s such A Big Deal if you are a Trek fan (we had the novelisation when I was a wee yun and it said something like ”AT LAST!! THE GENERATIONS MEET!!!” on the cover). Well, whatev, I love it. Again, ROMULANS. And everything about Romulan-Vulcan politics. But also Nimoy is pretty great and you get the Undiscovered Country Spock, who I wouldn’t want to watch a series about cause he is a but much BUT in small doses and as a character at the apex of his powers FINE, it’s WELL EARNED. But yeah, not only does this not make a complete fuck up of the Romulans, but there’s some very nice character stuff (Spock and Picard, Picard and Sarek, Data and Spock even, all get top moments).

10) Parallels – In some ways, season seven of TNG is hilariously dire. But it’s slick, so you tend to get swept along anyway and can mostly ignore how daft it’s all got. Except maybe Masks, and Eye of the Beholder. And Bloodlines, and…actually forget it, season seven is NOT GOOD. But it’s the sort of not good you can ENJOY. It doesn’t make me want to remove my eyeballs with a spoon is what I’m saying. Anyway, amidst this mire of so-so hocum is a single glittering gem. Maybe. I’ve no idea if Parallels is any good. BUT I LOVE IT. I remember watching this for the first time utterly riveted. WHAT SORT OF UNIVERSE WILL WORF FIND HIMSELF IN NEXT?? Parallel universes are great, obv, and Parallels has a BIJILLION  of them. And it’s the sort of story that I bet comes across as Irritatingly Smug if you’re not a fan, but if you are, or if you watch a lot of TNG, then it’s a little bit joyous, and such fun. It’s a bloody Worf story, for goodness sake but since it’s more about him being confused than KLINGON HONOUR that fact doesn’t actually do it any harm.

Questions No-One’s Asked But I’m Answering Anyway

1) Where’s The Inner Light?

Er, The Inner Light makes me throw up slightly due to the saccharine nonsense, also when I watch Trek, I want some goddamn Trekking through Stars, not old dude gets older on some planet I don’t care about. I admit I liked it once. I was seven. I also liked Power Rangers.

2) Where’s The Measure of a Man?

I totally rate this story and think it’s top stuff. BUT it’s not a story that fills me with delicious love and glee.

3) What stories narrowly missed out on an Exciting Top Ten place?

Sarek, Ensign Ro, Power Play (SHUSHT), Frame of Mind, All Good Things…, Pre-emptive Strike, Conspiracy, Elementary Dear Data, Deja Q, The Wounded, Night Terrors, Ship in a Bottle, Tapestry, Timescape.


Everything I Thought About the Shiny New Third Doctor Comic

So the lovely folk at Titan have been doing a great and excellent thing and that is making classic Who comics. And I Quite Loved the Fourth Doctor one despite my distrust and confusion re comics, so clearly getting the Third Doctor one was going to happen. It was a very good choice.

Everything I Thought About the Shiny New Third Doctor Comic

There be SPOILERS below! If you are the least bit yay about the Third Doctor, read the comic unspoiled, goshdarnit!

– In the character bios at the front it says Jo Grant “has a flare of science.” Sure, if flare now means accidentally destroying other people’s experiments and not knowing what a cephalopod is. I loled. But it is also untrue. Jo is awesome in many ways but SKIENCE is not one of them.
– UNIT soldiers in civvies is always a plus. TWO POINTS.
– It is a bit great to see Jo and Mike on a date. On telly we only see the Doctor messing up Jo’s dates with Mike so he can strand her halfway up a cliff somewhere.
– The alien thingie has landed in the Home Counties because that is the only part of the world that ever gets invaded in 1970s British telly.
– “So I said to Pol Pot.” Lols. No, but really, cause it’s a reference to The Mind of Evil and FANNISH BEFUDDLEMENT as to why the Doctor would relate an anecdote about that time he was chums with Mao Tse-tung. I wonder how that reads to people who haven’t watched it?
– Oh, and the Doctor is at his CLUB, which he DOESN’T HAVE. He makes reference to going to a gentlemen’s club in Terror of the Autons to smack down an snobby bureaucrat via class privilege. SOME FANS take it as literal, and shoving it into PSEUDO-CANON doesn’t make it any more real. HE’S NOT A TORY.
– And of course he would beat the Doctor at chess. QUITE RIGHT.
– Ooh, cool robots. And explosions. And Jo in military garb. It’s all so pretty.
– God, I love the good old days when the Doctor’s all “haven’t a clue who they are” instead of an insufferble know-it-all. (Though this is Three, so he’s insufferable in whole other ways, but that’s fine.)
– “Sir, get into cover!” “Thank you, captain, that would never have occurred to me.” Lols!
– Should I admit I cheered at the Doctor getting zapped. IS THAT WRONG OF ME?
– What, were the RAF just hanging around a mile off?
– “Well, I hope you’re satisfied.” “Thank you, Doctor, I am.” Top. All the Brig stuff is top.
– A gurn! A gurn! :D:D
– Omg, there’re two panels of gurning! Seventy points for accuracy.
– Osgood! And he has an inhaler this time, SUBTLE. But great.
– Jo is reading the manual.
– Ah! The Doctor chucks Jo on the chin while appreciating her Time Lord to human translation abilities. V GOOD.
– Corporal Bell! Smashing!
– “Only myself and the tea lady…” *shakes head sadly” Stealing jokes from Terror of the Autons. FOR SHAME.
– OMG.
– …
– So, yes, two thumbs up. That was pretty great. Fannish catnip. Delicious. Though how the dickens do people regularly read these things in such little bites?

The 100 Greatest Starfleet Characters in Star Trek

This year is Star Trek’s fiftieth anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than with a helping of good old-fashioned nerd-rage at an Internet list you don’t agree with?

After reading a list of the 100 Most Important Members of Starfleet on Wired, I was cool and collected despite the many egregious errors, not least of all the incorrect placing of Sisko. In fact, I was so cool, calm, and collected that I diligently wrote my own list of the 100 Greatest Starfleet Characters in Star Trek, which you can read below. And I gave REASONS. Sort of. Words, anyway. (Yes, “most important members” and “greatest characters in” are different things, because judging Importance was a whole lot more fernickety than judging Greatness, for which I’ve used my own special correct scale that includes both in show and real world nonsense.)

1) There are swears.
2) There are spoilers.
3) There are four outright cheating answers (not members of Starfleet).
4) Don’t hold me to any of this. Correct placements may depend on mood.
5) Not Sisko though. That’s always the right place for Sisko. Don’t argue with this, you’re just being wrong.

The 100 Greatest Starfleet Characters in Star Trek

1) Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko aka The Sisko. Because he can live with it. Any list where he is not number one is INCORRECT. This is a fact. Do not try to pretend it isn’t. It is. Fact. Some people might side-eye you as they point at seasons one through three. This is because Sisko had hair on his head and no amazing beard. These people are wrong. Yes, the Sisko is at his height with a bald scalp and awesome facial hair, but dammit he can do the job without those things. They are merely enhancements. Would The Maquis have been better with Ultimate Sisko? MAYBE. But let’s not split hairs.

2) Captain James Tiberius Kirk – Don’t think it doesn’t hurt me putting bloody Kirk second, it does. A lot. The keyboard is like a thousand tiny knives as I type this HOWEVER it’s Kirk. The man may have thought diplomacy meant toppling other people’s governments and ignoring dudes saying “sod off, we don’t want you here” but he did save the galaxy. A lot. You don’t have to like it. But it happened. (Remember that time he save the universe? In the single worst episode of TOS. YES WORSE THAN SPOCK’S BRAIN. Which is, btw, lolarious, and I quite like. QUIET.)

3) Admiral Kathryn Janeway – I fucking love Janeway. Not like some people love her. I wouldn’t want to be on the same ship as her (due to her being not the most stable of captains; the trope of the crazy female scientist puts hearts in my eyes and Janeway get to be that AND CAPTAIN) and I don’t want to marry her, BUT watching Katherine Hepburn In Space on the tellybox is fucking awesome. FACT. Also, Picard saved us from the Borg like twice, Janeway did it every other week. You got to admit the Federation was probably pretty thrilled they finally had a captain who could go toe to toe with the Borg. And let’s not forget how incredibly rare it is to have a female hero and female nemesis face off against each other. Janeway vs the Borg Queen? That rocked. Janeway vs Seska? That rocked too. Don’t try pretend it didn’t. Or underestimate how important it was to have a female lead.

4) Captain Spock – It’s hard to overestimate the importance of Spock. If you’re reading this list you know that. If you hate Spock, and I assume some people must, you still can’t really say “yeah, he was shit” with a straight face. Now, people underestimate Kirk a lot. Trek wouldn’t work without Kirk. It would be dead and forgotten. But Spock makes it epic. And he needs Kirk to do that. One doesn’t work without the other. Course as well as regularly saving the ship and life as we know it with SCIENCE, Spock also waded into the diplomatic ring and was responsible for the Klingons not blowing us all out of the stars. But he did that by giving Kirk a push. And operating on a torpedo. Personal bias makes me want to put him lower because he fucking well got Romulus blown up (one of the many reasons I side-eye the new movies) and I love Romulans most of any Trek species, but he did go from ambassadoring to underground rebel leader to universe hopping old guy, and so I’m forced to admit he probably deserves the number four spot.

5) Captain Jean-Luc Picard – Picard below Janeway?! BLASPHEMY. Yeah, but also correct. Why? Beige. Some people talk about the eighties like it was all neon colours and glitter mascara but fuck it if science fiction wasn’t pickled beige. Doctor Who was at its beigest (Davison, obv) and Trek got in on the game with the start of seven long years of scanning star systems and warping from one starbase to another. Now, this might give you the idea I don’t *like* TNG, that I maybe don’t appreciate the greatness of Patrick Stewart’s Shakespearian ways, or I’m unable to cope with the awesomeness that is The Best of Both Worlds. UNTRUE. I don’t dislike TNG, it’s probably the Trek I most grew up with most BUT it’s the sort of like in the same way you might like a wallpaper. Sure it might be a great wallpaper, but it’s fucking wallpaper. That said, put Picard and “I need you, Q” up against Sisko with “It’s easy to be a saint in paradise” and I admit, I can’t really call a winner. What I’m trying to say is yeah, when it’s good it’s really fucking good, but when it’s bad it’s beige. Also try and tell me the first three seasons of TNG are better than the first three of Voyager. GO ON TELL ME. Did you tell me? Yes? I wasn’t listening, because you’re wrong. Anyway, Picard, yeah. He saved humanity, but it was only like once. And mostly cause Q was in a flirtatious mood.

6) Commander Kira Nerys (DS9) – “Commander?!” Yes, nerd fans, if that was your response, for this is a list of STARFLEET personal. SO if you were never enlisted in Starfleet, you ain’t on it (um, mostly, I cheat later). And Kira was in Starfleet in Season 7 in order to placate Cardassian pride or something. ANYWAY. Kira Nerys is one of the top Trek characters. Fact. On my list of favs she’s probably second, maybe third. This is a woman who was part of the armed resistance that freed her homeworld from a fifty year occupation before she became first officer and ranking Bajoran on the Federation’s most important spacestation despite the fact her people weren’t actually Federation members leading to constant split loyalties and weighing of where her duty lies. And she had to deal with the fact that her commanding officer was also a religious icon to her. She saved the Alpha Quadrant thanks to her behind-the-lines activities during the Dominion War, and then went off to again use her skills to bring about its end. Basically, Sisko can live with it, but the whole Alpha Quadrant would’ve been fucked if Kira hadn’t managed to put aside a lifetime of hate and violence to work with her enemies again and again. Obviously I would never judge someone on what fictional characters they love, but loving Kira makes you a better person. Just sayin’.

7) Admiral Leonard H. McCoy aka Bones – I love McCoy. Is there a more likeable performance from a Trek regular? Or is that just me? I don’t know, but I find southern American accents very reassuring and it’s McCoy’s fault. So, yeah, McCoy, the other third of Kirk’s brain and so basically responsible for a third of the times the ship/Federation/galaxy is saved, but also for making SPACE MEDICINE happen and generally saving the lives of people who then go on to save said galaxy. Uses mortar on a Horta, can cure a rainy day, best doctor in Starfleet. FACT.

8) Commander T’Pol – Urgh. Enterprise. Look, it’s not a good series, we all know that. We might be able to cherry pick an episode or two that doesn’t make us want to start smashing up all our models of the Enterpise (I don’t actually have one…I do have a Romulan D’Deridex class warbird though) but yeah, it’s not good. What makes this extra frustrating is that T’Pol is fucking awesome. Every week she manages not to airlock her captain! Every week she makes bleh dialogue sound acceptable! Every week…you get the idea. T’Pol deserved better than Enterprise is what I’m saying. And she makes a lot of it bearable, even though the costume people are desperately fighting against that. And being the first Vulcan on a human ship, and learning humans are occasionally not the most awful sentients in the galaxy is what started the Federation really. You might think the captain was more important, but no. Any competent human captain could do what Archer did, what was needed for the future’s tenuous grasp of galactic peace was a Vulcan willing to put up with hundreds of annoying humans on a day to day basis, and that was T’Pol. Of all the non-DS9 telly series’ T’Pol is the character who gets the most interesting, in-depth character development. I’m thinking about Seven and the EMH as I type that and, for me, the EMH’s later (season six and seven stuff) is not what I would call interesting so much as self-indulgent, but Seven is really T’Pol’s only serious competitor. DS9, course, is a whole other fish kettle.

9) Captain Montgomery Scott aka SCOTTY aka Everything You Need To Know About Scotland You Can Learn From Star Trek – Scottish people can make interstellar starships out of everyday kitchenware and like to drink stuff that is green; I learned this from Trek. Also life, cause it’s true. One might argue that the Scottish stereotyping we see in Engineer “Can I have a wee nip o whisky?” Scott is not the most enlightened characterisation. SOD THESE PEOPLE. Scotty is a FINE and DECENT representation of the Scottish in space, and his status as THE Scotsperson in Space was uncontested until Amy Pond arrived. (God knows I love Jamie, but his impact on popular culture pales in comparison to Scotty’s, as does Amy’s really, but this is my list, so I shall say otherwise). I’m less thrilled by the Simon Pegg version who is…annoying. And sounds fake Scottish to me. Many people have said this about real Scotty but growing up I never once thought “fake Scottish person” I thought “yay, Scottish person in space!”

10) Commander Nyota Uhura – You might think wtf all she did was answer the ship’s telephone, to which I say SHAME ON YOU. Sure, you can make jokes about her job, but the fact is she was still senior staff on the Federation’s flagship and you don’t get there by being shit, and in the context of the time a black woman being on the telly in a non-stereotypical role was a big fucking deal. We can look back and scoff, but this was Roddenberry pushing at what society would accept, and offering something better. And it still made an impact twenty-five-ish years later when I was a wee girl watching; not that she was black, but that she was a woman, THE woman of classic Trek. It mattered to me that I saw her out in space, being competent as fuck and part of the adventure, and I’m white and this was the nineties. So I can only imagine how much it must have meant to African-American women in the sixties. Also, Nichols is sheer class onscreen. The character is woefully underwritten but Nichols gives her presence and charm and never wastes a second of her screentime. There’s a speech she has in the pretty awful Plato’s Step-children about how when scary shit’s happening the captain’s voice would help soothe her fear, and I’m thinking “but when scary shit’s happening, it’s *your* voice the rest of the crew hear most often! You’re the calm reassuring presence for *them*”. I don’t know if they meant it to work like that, but it works for me. Anyway, yeah, Uhura, massive cultural impact, and as well as managing the ship’s communications, she can also steer the thing and is a dab hand with the engineering stuff. In case you missed that.

11) Captain Hikaru Sulu – Sulu! Oh, if there were any justice in the world Sulu would have got that Excelsior spin-off and he’d be leaping up to the Top 5 and everyone would be happy and joyous because Sulu fucking rocks. How do I know this? FENCING. Any man whose inclination when drunk is to pick up a sword and start swinging it at his captain is rocking. And then unlike the rest of the Little Six of TOS he got honest to God CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT and it worked, it worked gloriously. It’s almost painful watching Flashback because Sulu and his dudes are just so awesome, it’s ghastly knowing we’ll never get to see more of them.

12) Lt. Commander Data – Data. Oh Data. This is a VERY GRUDGING PLACEMENT, as several of my TNG picks are going to be for reasons mentioned previously. Data is not beige, I admit, but there is sometimes a preciousness in the way the character is discussed that makes me irritated. I don’t know, maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe I’ve watched one too many Brent Spiner interviews (one second the guy cracks me up something rotten, the next I’m thinking gosh it’d be nice if he tripped and fell on his face), but Data. UNFORTUNATELY my “ffs, Data” opinion feels very much in the minority. They were aiming for Spock II and they seemed to hit a pretty good place. I can see why Data is fascinating and intriguing etc etc, but I just don’t feel it. That said, putting him lower on the list would be CHURLISH and lying a bit because yeah, fine, he’s QUITE GOOD.

13) Commander Worf – Again, this is a RELUCTANTLY HIGH PLACING. I’m not a Worf fan either, though I am a Michael Dorn fan, and I am forced to admit I may be slightly a DS9!Worf fan. Worf in TNG is The Klingon with his Klingon Ways talking about Klingon honour and oh my God where are the Romulans to come blow shit up? Worf on DS9 suddenly feels like A Person. He’s not The Alien with his Weird Alien Ways, but one of many non-humans who all have different values that catch and clash together. It works. And Worf is a big player in the Klingon-Federation diplomatic scene, his character has a massive impact on Shit That Happens, and that, along with him being the longest running Trek regular by quite some margin (11 years!) means he just misses out on the Top Ten.

14) Chief Miles Edward O’Brien – The fact that Miles is even still alive is worthy of him getting this pretty high placing. Never has a Trek character been put through so much gut-wrenchingly awful crap than Miles Edward O’Brien. “Hey, writers, what’ve you got planned for the Chief this week?” “Oh, we thought we’d have him kidnapped and tortured by the Cardassians then put through a show trial with a death sentence?” “Awesome! How about next week?” “We thought we’d get him implanted with twenty years worth of solitary confinement, oh apart from this one dude who’s his cellmate for a bit, but then O’Brien kills him. Then he tries to kill himself.” “Marvellous! Carry on!” But, yeah, Miles is The Man. By which I mean Awesome, not Oppressive. You’ve also got Colm Meaney, who’s top quality in every role he’s ever had. Fact. If there’s anyone who could deliver “I am a decent man”” better (Crossover, Season Three), they’ve never been on the telly.

15) Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax – There’s a hefty dose of personal bias in this one (cause the rest of this list is all objective fact, obv) since I glommed onto Dax pretty hard when DS9 arrived. I suspect it’s cause there’s a healthy dash of Time Lord in the character: seven(/eight) past lives, but she’s also a young woman, and solves problems with SCIENCE. Oh, I love her. I love that she gets to be Sisko’s mentor, and encourages Kira to have fun in the holosuite, and that she gets to command the Defiant. She can even make bloody Klingon stuff bearable.

16) Lt. Commander Julian Subatoi Bashir – There are two kinds of people: those who love Julian Bashir and those who are wrong. So much judginess at early Bashir, and he’s just young and chipper and wants to save the universe. One of the best Bashir moments happens in the pilot where he’s all “frontier medicine!” and Kira is “fuck your colonialist Federation bullshit” and it’s awesome. It’s hard to pick a favourite relationship on DS9. But if Bashir and Garak, and Bashir and O’Brien aren’t high on your list, you’re doing it wrong. Two of the most marvelous, evolving, compelling relationships in Trek.

17) Seven of Nine (VOY) – Okay, technically Seven is one of four characters who shouldn’t be on this list (the others are Odo, Kes, and Phlox; I know you really cared and wanted to know that) because she isn’t a member of Starfleet. But she does wear a comm badge, and they don’t hand those things out like candy. Seven is a shockingly awesome character given how she looks from a distance: an adolescent attempt to make Voyager sexier. But the writing makes that crap almost irrelevant. Seven is allowed a depth and breadth of characterisation rare in the Trek regulars, especially the women. She’s clearly a writer’s darling, but in the good way, not the Lana Lang way, and Jeri Ryan is more than up to the job of carrying script after script. You can see how some of the other cast might be a bit pissed off. But the audience should be cheering.

18) Captain William Thomas Riker – *sigh* Another TNG regular I reluctantly put in the Top 20 because it really would be difficult to justify having them any lower. And I do like Frakes. It’s just Riker. Riker Riker Riker. The best thing about Riker is the way he sits down. Honestly. And he did himself justice in Best of Both Worlds. And I actually really love Frame of Mind. But he’s so *Riker* and Riker is sort of ghastly as often as he’s not. I like that he plays the trombone. The beard does look good…and I suppose he was the first person to actually stop the Borg, ignoring time travel shenanigans. So that’s quite good. But yeah. Riker.

19) Commander Beverly Crusher – “If there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with the universe.” That line alone makes Bev Top Twenty. Remember Me scared the crap out of me when I was wee, but it’s a top Beverly episode. I’ve a lot of time for McFadden’s Crusher; she manages compassion and authority in equal measure and I love that even though she’s the doctor and does the science and is all about helping people, she’s still personally ambitious. Not much, but it’s there: she doesn’t *need* to be a commander, but she goes for it anyway, and she takes on night-shifts, and in one future she’s got her own ship. The chemistry between her and Picard was pretty nifty, and I loved every breakfast scene we got. She manages lawful good without smug or self-rightousness, and she has a smashing eye-of-the-storm aura.

20) The Emergency Medical Hologram – Who’d have thought in the beginning of Voyager that the Trio (aka their Kirk/Spock/McCoy) would turn out to be Janeway/Seven/EMH? You’d think with two characters wanting to understand whati t means to be human that one of them would get sidelined, but no, in fact they end up building upon one another and sidelining the rest of the cast. Never mind, they’re quite great, and across Voyager’s seven years it’s Robert Picaro’s EMH that makes the greatest character journey, going from a taciturn miserable git of a computer program to a Renaissance man who loves everything about life.

21) Constable Odo – Odo is a fine character indeed and Rene Auberjonois one of the strongest actors in DS9 (and it’s a tough crowd), but I don’t actually *like* Odo all that much. He’s a bit of a fascist, much more interested in order than justice. But he is compelling, and like all of the DS9 regulars he gets more than enough material to do his character justice. Plus there is no scene he has with Quark that isn’t gold. As sparring partners go, there’s no better pair in Trek. Yeah, not even Spock & McCoy, sorry people, but Odo & Quark outbitch them by quite some distance.

22) Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge (TNG) – I actually quite like Geordi, though season one Geordi is just sort of THERE, once he gets Engineering he’s got some gravitas. You believe this guy when he says the ship’s about to go kablooey. God knows Levar Burton does a great job with what he’s got, it’s just that TNG was pretty fucking terrible at giving Geordi stories that were any good. I’m struggling to think of a top quality Geordi story…Mind’s Eye is okay? Actually his best might be Hollow Pursuits which is really Barclay’s story, but Geordi’s the chief support and it does a great job of showcasing his own strengths and flaws as he tries to deal with having a normal person who’s a bit crap working for him. Anyway, Geordi is consistently likable, which is AN ACHIEVEMENT when you’re a TNG regular. There are literally no episodes where I think he deserves a transporter accident…maybe Booby Trap.

23) Lt. B’Elanna Torres (VOY) – A (half)-Klingon who thinks Klingon stuff is bullshit. That alone is a fairly compelling reason to like B’Elanna. She’s gone to the Geordi LaForge School of Engineering, where you’re consistent and endearing, but struggling when you’re asked to carry forty-five minutes. She does manage it a few times, because the writers are rather better to her than Geordi, and when she’s asked to be vulnerable it can be heartbreakingly good. There was also something amazing watching Parallax for the first time and the whole episode being her and Janeway talking science and falling a bit in love with each other. Give me another Trek story where it’s two women saving the day with science and I will give a CROISSANT cause I can’t think of any earlier. But after? They kept coming! And then we got Seven and suddenly we had a TRIO of women engineers and scientists beings incredibly smart and rendering the rest of the regulars pretty much redundant. IT ROCKED.

24) Commander Deanna Troi (TNG) – I’m a bigger Troi fan than I should be cause I get annoyed when fans are dismissive of her. Also she’s the star of one of my top TNG eps, which she is completely aces in: Face of the Enemy (Romulans! Carolyn Seymour!) The problem with Troi is simple – they gave her a fucking stupid uniform. Sirtis has commented on this herself that after Jellico gave her a bollocking and she switched to a standard uniform she suddenly got treated like a pro. The Loss isn’t very popular, but I love it, and how there’s nothing insipid or inspiring about how she reacts when she loses one of her senses, she’s angry and depressed, and I get that, so I love it. I wish they’d done more with it but she really does advise Picard on the side a heck of a lot, and he confides in her in a way he can’t with anyone else, which is rather lovely.

25) Commander Pavel Chekov (TOS) – Even in the films, Chekov tended to get the shortest of shrifts, and one reason I fucking love ST:V despite the arguments one could make about the plot not being all that is that it’s so good to every regular. They all get their moment to shine. Chekov gets to be “Captain Chekov” and it’s a fuckload better moment for him than the e’er-so-slightly better known “nuclear wessels.” Anyway, he’s another underwritten TOS character who surpasses what little he was given to do because Walter Koenig is a far better actor than the role called for.

26) Lt. Ro Laren (TNG) – One of the best decisions TNG ever made was to create Ro Laren. Never has such exquisite care been taken with the introduction of a new Trek character as they did with her. Even the episode’s named after her. An even better decision was to cast Michelle Forbes. Ro might not have had all that much to do again until her top notch final story, but she was in there providing some much needed FRICTION and CHARACTER CONFLICT every episode she had.

27) Commander Charles Tucker III aka Trip (ENT) – Was Trip actually quite good or was I fooled by his McCoy accent? Sometimes I wonder. Anyway, ENT had two quality characters and they were T’Pol and Trip. Not coincidently, most of Ent’s best stuff came when these two were in a scene together. Even if Archer was there too, it didn’t actually ruin things. Curiously, his counterpart in the mirror universe was actually LESS interesting than regular Trip, which is reason enough to put him ahead of Archer.

28) Captain Jonathan Archer (ENT) – Yeah, I suppose I better put the last captain down. Fine. Archer. Captained an important milestone starship. Didn’t lead humanity into a mega-war. Maybe stopped a Romulan ploy to start a mega-war. But, ugh. He doesn’t deserve this place, because if TNG is beige, Archer is the distillation of all TNG. And I love Scott Bakula, I feel TERRIBLE being so appalled at his character but the writing just wasn’t there. There was no magic. The best we got from Archer was the unbalanced sadist from the alt universe. That was AMAZING. Great writing, and Bakula being COMPELLING in the role. When you’re more interested in the mirror universe version who hears voices telling him he’s shit, you know there’s a teeny tiny problem with the show.

29) Lt. Natasha Yar (TNG) – The only TNG regular who gets out of the first season dignity more or less intact thanks to a consistent ability to save bad scenes. I feel pretty cheated that Crosby left since she’s easily the best of the female characters (if we’re only looking at season one) and who knows how far she’d have gone if she’d stuck around? But really, it’s difficult to blame her for wanting out. After all, the one story you can really point to and say “that’s a fucking great Tasha Yar” story is Yesterday’s Enterprise.

30) Lt. Commander Hoshi Sato (ENT) – Probably doesn’t deserve to be this high, but fuck it, I like Hoshi. A half-hearted attempt to give Uhura’s role more meaning and depth retrospectively, and it’s just…it’s not great. So much involves her yelling words into a translator and flailing a bit. I don’t mind the flail, I just want to feel invested when the survival of Our Heroes depends on Hoshi’s ability to understand alien languages. And I don’t. I don’t blame Linda Park, she’s clearly giving it a damn good try again and again, but she’s up against consistently dubious writing. Still, maybe worth it for the moment she becomes Empress.

31) Ensign Wesley Crusher (TNG) –  I was much too young to develop any particular hate towards Wesley Crusher, and when I watch any season one episode nowadays, sure, it’s annoying when the kid genius saves the day or talks about alcohol or drugs, but those flaws are pretty minor compared to the sheer horror of the rest of the writing. As soon as he stops being a regular, he suddenly gets excellent writing, and I quite love it. The Final Mission, The First Duty, The Game and Journey’s End are all great Wesley episodes. Try watching the The Dauphin and The Game one after the other and boggle in confusion at the difference in writing.

32) Commander Katherine Pulaski (TNG) – The older I get, the more I like Pulaski. Originally I was weirdly offended that she’d dared to replace Crusher and that she was mean to Data. Then I appreciated the fact that, oh, it’s QUITE GREAT someone’s actually providing regular, spiky character conflict. And then she has all those scenes with Troi where they’re like “Captain, we talked it over and this is the shit that’s happening, you should probably get on fixing that.”

33) Captain Rachel Garrett (TNG) – Why, you might ask, is a character who appears onscreen for less than three minutes higher than some regulars? Because that’s how fucking perfect those three minutes are folks. It’s staggering how much is dead on awesome in Yesterday’s Enterprise and one of those things is Rachel Garrett. The writing and performance needed to pack a punch in seconds, we needed to believe this was a Captain Of The Enterprise and get a sense of who she was and what she was about and believe that hell yes she could have carried her own series. All this is done. It is magnificent. And don’t forget female captains in Trek remain a rarity, so seeing Garrett as the Enterprise-C captain is pretty magic.

34) Captain Christopher Pike (TOS) – Yeah, that’s right, Pike below Garrett. I love Pike. Pike Prime, anyway. I’m not so fond of Green, but a good bit of that is the shallow talking, cause Jeffrey Hunter was an incredible looking man. You watch The Cage and you’re captivated; it’s a great hour of telly, and much more than a simple curiosity of what might have been. It’s quality science fiction, and Hunter could have carried the series. It’d have been a very different sort of series, maybe a little more reflective, a little less gung-ho, but it’ve been good stuff.

35) Commander Elizabeth Shelby (TNG) – In the magic universe where TNG pandered to me like woah, they kicked out Riker after Best of Both Worlds and got Shelby on instead as first officer. Shelby is everything that’s missing in TNG: an ambitious woman who’s intelligent, confident, and wants command. Every moment she’s onscreen is gold. From her smackdown of Riker to her fitting right into the Enterprise team to take down the Borg. It’s a crying shame she left at the end of the story and was never seen again. Yes, yes, I know about Excalibur, but I wanted her on the tellybox.

36) Lt. Saavik (ST:II/ST:III/ST:IV) – It’s difficult not to think of Saavik as part of the TOS crew, which is quite an achievement when she was only in two and a bit movies. But, damn, she was a fine addition to the team, and Kirstie Alley was sublime. That opening scene of ST:II with her taking the Kobayashi Maru is gorgeous in how it sets up her character, and she never lets up. And it’s all done without her overshadowing the core team (mostly – Sulu and Uhura deserved a more to do). And given TOS suffered in having only really Uhura around properly, it was awesome to see another woman onscreen doing stuff.

37) Number One (TOS) – The truly great thing about The Cage, above even Jeffrey Hunter and the lolarity of Spock shouting for no reason, is Number One. The cold, logical, brilliant first officer that we weren’t allowed because she was a woman. (And having an affair with the show’s creator, but mostly the being a woman thing.) And she’s so good. I used to think I didn’t much care for Majel Barrett’s acting, since I dislike Chapel (too simpering) and Lwaxana (for the usual boring reasons people dislike her) but she is just perfect here.

38) Commander Janice Rand (TOS) – Rand should be a character I dislike, but I just can’t. I blame those wholly on Grace Lee Whitney, since on paper Rand is dreadful. She brings Kirk his meals and gets him to sign stuff and lol yay the enlightened 23rd century. BUT Whitney is actually really good in the part. I can’t help but find her endearing, and even the little moments delight me: the way she yells for Spock to come help her get the annoying crewman out of her way on The Naked Time. And she has hands down the very best hairstyle of any Trek regular.

39) Lt. Ezri Dax (DS9) – Nicole deBoehr went on DS9 with a bloody tough job: not only was she a new cast member in the final season of a show that’d already been on the air for six years, but she was literally replacing a beloved character who’d just been killed of. She was the new Doctor, and we all know how Doctor Who fans react to a new Doctor, especially when he’s replacing their favourite (I say, assuming anyone reading this much guff about Star Trek has also sampled the fine British delicacy of Doctor Who). So, yeah, I was prepared to hate Ezri, but I gave up after about five minutes. It just seemed mean.

40) Captain Edward Jellico (TNG) – The most underrated captain of the Enterprise, and the captain that the crew of the Enterprise D deserve, someone who is sick of their shit and doesn’t respond well to whiners, especially when he’s busy trying to stop a war. He’s the perfect anecdote to the smug of TNG, and best of all, there’s no kneecapping him by having him be wrong or incompetent or someone who’s morally fucked up. Nope, this is a top Starfleet officer who knows his shit and gets the job done, he just doesn’t care much for the senior staff of Starship Beige. His dressing down of Riker is divine.

41) Kes (VOY) – Seriously underrated, which is not to say that she’s actually amazing or anything, but when you gave her a shining script, she didn’t let you down. It’s just a shame the shining scripts were about three and a half in over three years. But I bloody love Warlord, Before and After, and Persistence of Vision: all great Kes and great Trek. It’s a shame Fury happened.

42) Commander Chakotay aka Chuckles aka I Turned Up For Work For Seven Years Omgwtf You Expect Me To ACT As Well?! – You might insinuate that I’m not a fan of Chakotay. That is correct. And I say that as a former resident of JetC (if you don’t know, don’t ask, you don’t want to know, probably). It’s not that I dislike him exactly, it’s that Beltran is snoozing his way through at least four years of the show. He’s bored, I’m bored, we’re all bored and this is VOYAGER, it’s already struggling to keep the audience awake (I love VOY, I do, but season six, man, season six, it was like it was trying to kill me). Anyway, he also does very little. Janeway is more interested in what Tuvok, Seven, and the Doc think. But, well, he’s there. He doesn’t get the ship blown up, and that’s probably important when you’re the first officer.

43) Commander Tuvok – I feel pretty bad about this because I remember so much Tuvok flack based on bullshit (”oh, we can’t have a black Vulcan! It’s unrealistic!” Whatev) and he does have some moments with Janeway, and he is a bit scary when he gets possessed or Vulcan shit goes wrong BUT there’re two sorts of Vulcan: good and boring, and Tuvok is the boring kind. The kind who is really well into his Vulcan-y ways and lacks the charm that makes Spock/Sarek/T’Pol/Alley!Saavik so appealing.

44) Dr. Helen Noel (TOS) – Once Grace Lee Whitney left the series, and even a bit before, we were given a constantly rotating Yeoman/Lt female guest star cause women are disposable and interchangeable lol. Anyway, most of these characters were pretty dreary, with a few notable exceptions, Helen Noel being one of them. Noel is smart, witty, competent, determined, and flirts like crazy with Kirk in an episode that is mostly a two hander about them, their relationship, and their exciting adventure of bad shit going on in a prison.

45) Dr. Elizabeth Dehner (TOS) – Despite kicking out Number One, Trek’s second pilot wasn’t a complete sexist balls-up, we got the rather fab Elizabeth Dehner. Sure, you want to throw bloody Mitchell into a nebula for his HILARIOUS She’s Frigid ‘banter’ but ignore that line and enjoy this otherwise excellent tale about what the fuck you’re supposed to do when your buddy turns into a god. Dehner gets to be more Spock than Spock at this early stage and unlike most of TOS’s female guest stars, there’s a satisfying conclusion to her part in the story as she goes out a hero taking down a god.

46) Lt. Reginald Barclay (TNG/VOY) – Barclay would be rather higher if we were just looking at his TNG involvement, which was an awesome reminder that normal, slightly messed up people get to explore the galaxy too. Alas after one bizarre first season appearance he turned into a recurring nostalgia trip on Voyager for people who still couldn’t get over the fact TNG had ended.

47) Admiral Nora Satie (TNG) – I admit a bit of bias here cause Satie is played by the inestimable Jean Simmons, but it’s also that rarest of roles: yer actual meaty part for a woman past fifty. And it’s not about being old, or alone, or ill, or any of that simpering tedious claptrap (nb: opinions on these themes may vary). It’s about how she’s a fucking monster who’ll prey on paranoia and fear to wield power and influence, all in the name of good. Her corruption of Worf is top Trek.

48) Crewman Seska (VOY) – Seska! One of the many excellent things about Voyager’s early seasons was Martha Hackett’s awesome Cardassian spy who was seriously pissed off at the Starfleet method of What To Do When Trapped Halfway Across The Galaxy. Even though the Kazon were the single worst recurring species in all of Trek, suddenly that didn’t matter so much when Seska turned up with em. Killed off far too early, but the writers seemed to realise what they’d lost as it’s not a lot of Trek villains that are brought back not once, but twice after their death to once again threaten Our Heroes (and in the second greatest Holodeck Gone Wrong story too [Our Man Bashir is top, obv]).

49) Ensign Harry Kim (VOY) – Too low? Maybe. I quite like Harry Kim, the problem is that the writers give him so little character development across the seven years that he never makes the jump from likeable to interesting. And there’s nothing even particularly bad about Harry’s episodes – they’re perfectly decent forty minutes of space adventure. They’re just going to struggle to make anyone’s list of Top Trek. His friendship with Paris is one of the better aspects of his character, and works to make both of them more interesting. And I appreciated they were trying a bit with Timeless. But, y’know, seven years. Do something with the guy beyond “slightly less wet behind the ears”.

50) Doctor Phlox (ENT) – Phlox suffers by reminding me a bit too much of Neelix, not enough that I start grinding my teeth every time he’s onscreen, but y’know, it’s there. He’s a bit too jovial and Oh Look At My Weird Quirks, for the most part. Where he actually gets to breathe the delicious tasty air above the generally yarg writing of Enterprise is whenever there’s a bit of worldweariness about him, or when he gets angry, or in his scenes with T’Pol (as they bond over being The Aliens onboard.)

51) Lt. Thomas Eugene Paris (VOY) – Bit of personal bias here cause I can’t think of any top quality Paris episodes. Which is a shame cause Robert Duncan McNeil was one of the better actors on the show, but the character just doesn’t shine when he stands alone. Luckily they often pair him up with Harry or B’Elanna who both make him that little bit more interesting. Also, I blame him for Threshold.

52) Lt. Malcolm Reed (ENT) – Eh. Well, he’s not awful or anything. I sort of like him and his “guns! Let’s get guns!” attitude even if it’s a bit incongruous given the British accent (we are not, as a nation, all that keen on the guns). He does get a bonus point cause Guy Siner is his Dad, but while he’s consistently fiiine to watch, nothing really jumps out at you to make it any better than that.

53) Lt. Ilia (ST:TMP) – I love that she shaved her head for the role. And technically, she did save the Earth, which is quite nifty when you’re also dead at the time. I commend the effort of trying to get another alien onboard and going for a woman with no hair.

54) Admiral Alynna Nechayev (TNG/DS9) – I love Nechayev. When I was a kid I hated her, and I still *dislike* her, but as a character, she’s rocking. First it was nice to finally have a regular admiral as Picard’s superior rather than just Some Dude (the only one of these Random Dude Admirals that gets a thumbs up from me is Nakamura. Cause he bollocks Picard out for being late, again). But Nechayev is a difficult woman, and she doesn’t take a shine to Picard. So Picard gets her some delciious pastries the next time she visits, which cheers her up a bit because DELICIOUS PASTRIES. She’s also the catalyst for one of the great Trek lines (”it’s easy to be a saint in paradise”) cause she’s blinded to the fact that people on the edges of Federation space under constant threat from Cardassians aren’t going to be good little citizens and do exactly what Starfleet says they should do. It’s a crying shame she wasn’t back for the Dominion war, instead we got DS9’s blandest character: Admiral Ross.

55) Commodore Matt Decker (TOS) – Top work in the Harrowing Performance category. So you’re commanding a starship, and a DOOSMDAY WEAPON appears, it’s tearing you up, you beam your crew down to the nearest planet to save them AND THE DOOMSDAY WEAPON EATS THE PLANET. Not a fun day for you, is it? Decker’s hysteria is magnificent. A lot of the time Trek does dangerous-crazy, which is rather distressing since mentally ill people are statistically safer to be around than non-mentally ill people. Here we have sympathetic-crazy, a man who’s lost too much and wants to see that whale go down. Definitely one of the standout guest stars on TOS.

56) Lt. Kevin Riley (TOS) – “I’ll take you home again, Kathleen!” I bloody love early TOS. It’s not just the exquisite care taken over every aspect of production and writing, and the vast ambitions they had, but there’s a much better sense of Team!Enterprise rather than the Kirk/Spock/McCoy show. Riley only appears for two episodes, but in both, he’s awesome and fun, and his takeover of the Enterprise in The Naked Time is one of the funniest plotlines TOS ever had. The way he delivers “one more time!” cracks me up just thinking about it.

57) Lt. Commander Michael Eddington (DS9) – A solid DS9 character that wouldn’t have worked so well in any of the other series’. Cause DS9 wants you to be a bit on his side. He’s a sharp stab in the side of Starfleet pomposity, and while his end is shockingly poor, especially for DS9, we still get a good few episodes of solid dissing Federation policy, not to mention the neat twist of the double traitor reveal.

58) Emergency Medical Hologram Mark II (VOY)- An entry getting on the list due to COMEDY LOLS. Message in a Bottle is Top Voyager, where the Doctor is sent across thousands of light years to another starship that’s been taken over by Romulans, yay! (Sadly only bit part Romulans, boo). Anyway the only help he’s getting to save the day is that ship’s EMH, the EMH Mark II, the upgrade, the guy who thinks EMH Mark I is a bit shit. It is exactly as good as it should be. Well done, Voyager.

59) Captain Erika Hernandez (ENT) – I’m a big fan of Turnabout Intruder; I won’t get into why here since if there’s one thing this post doesn’t need, it’s 500 more words, but there is a perfectly decent argument that it’s a misogynistic piece of crap. And one of the contributing factors to that is a line about how women don’t get to be starship captains. Now, you can read that line as if you’re a starship captain and into women you don’t get the time to have relationships with em, but the writers have confirmed, I believe, that they meant it the awful way and later regretted it. Which doesn’t mean you can’t ignore that and read it the other way, the writer is dead etc. ANYWAY. One nice thing Enterprise did was give that line the kick it deserved and make the captain of Starfleet’s second warp five ship Hernandez. Sure, one can argue she’s only really there to flirt with Archer, but symbolism matters.

60) Trooper Reese (DS9) – There’re actually three characters from the excellent DS9 episode The Siege of AR-588 that could’ve made the list, and depending on mood I’d probably switch em out. The others are Lt. Nadia Larkin and Kellin (Bull Mumy!). On the one side you’ve Kellin, the decent guy who stays decent despite the horror he’s been though, Larkin who keeps it together but grows hard and cold to survive, and Reese who becomes fucking scary but in a way you get because what’s being asked of these people is horrifying. (You’ve got another guy who just plain loses it, which is fine, but that’s a more common trope; DS9 portraying four different outcomes for those hip deep in war is the sort of nuance that makes it my favourite.)

61) Ensign Sito Jaxa (TNG) – From a bit part in The First Duty where she’s part of the team that tries to cover up the reason for another cadet’s death, to a guest star role in the excellent episode Lower Decks, which follows four of the younger, fresher members of the Enterprise crew on their adventures for forty-five minutes. Sito’s death is one of the more affecting in TNG, and one that you do feel like Picard feels proper guilty about. Sure, she fucked up at the academy, but he got her on his ship, and he pushed her to take the mission (well, not *pushed*, but when your CO is all “I won’t order you to do this crazy thing” then it’s not exactly easy to say no). Anyway, nice to see another Bajoran in Starfleet perspective, and a rare character arc for a supporting player.

62) Captain Lisa Cusak (DS9) – Technically dead the whole time, and a little chipper for my tastes, but heh, she’s a likeable sort and an engaging mirror to hold up to the character development of Our Heroes. I do wonder what happened to her crew.

63) Lt. Nog (DS9) – See, on the one hand, I don’t care about Ferengi who aren’t Quark, but it’s very difficult to be too judgey at Nog. And, goshdarnit, the writers TRY. Between his friendship with Jake and his desire to enter Starfleet and excel while not casting off Ferengi culture, he should be higher. But it’s like Ferengi, man, they’re just not that interesting.

64) Yeoman Tonia Barrows (TOS) – In the post-Rand ever rotating series of female lieutenants and yeomen guesting, my actual favourite is Yeoman Tonia Barrows. Sure, in all the ways Helen Noel is a better character, but Barrows just fits into the TOS team and seems like she’s always been there. It’s awesome. Curse and damnation that we never see her again.

65) Captain Rudy Ransom (VOY) – A lot of Janeway’s encounter with Ransom and his crew feels like a lost opportunity. Here are two starships, stranded tens of thousands of light years from home with captains who have very different views on what they should do to get back. And because this is Voyager Janeway is Right and Ransom is Wrong, which was the stupid way to write this story. That said, I’m still on Ransom’s side; cause this was Janeway at her (pejoratively) craziest. She really is all out “TRAITOR!!” and there’s no nuance in her response to Ransom’s actions. ONLY SITHS DEAL IN ABSOLUTES.

66) Lt. Charlene Masters (TOS)- IIRC the only other black woman with a substantial role in TOS. On the down side, it’s in fucking Alternative Factor, which is shit, BUT Masters is awesome. I saw this story pretty late, I was definitely an adult, and it perplexed me for half of it was the worst crap TOS ever came out with and half of it was a curiously decent side story about Masters. Reading the behind-the-scenes nightmare, it turns out it was a miracle they got it made at all, and while it is TOS at its worst in almost all the ways, it’s still worth watching once for Masters.

67) Captain Tryla Scott (TNG) – What the fuck, she’s in it for like a minute and has three lines and she’s possessed the whole time?! Yeah, well, tough. Her impact is mostly symbolic, but symbols fucking matter and when I was, what, three, four? And I saw Conspiracy for the first time and I was (1) traumatised – parents do not let your toddler watch this episode it will scare the crap out of them and make them freak out quietly in their heads (2) rather enchanted by Captain Scott. Why? She’s introduced to us as the youngest person ever to make captain in Starfleet (what? But that was Kirk! She’s better than Kirk!) and when asked “Are you really that good?” she says “Yes, I am.” It’s not much, but the tiniest things can make an impact on a wee mind (like that fucking monster inside of Remmick, omg, my parents, what were they thinking?) and seeing her confidence and poise and best-of-the-bestness was fucking awesome. Even if it only lasted like a minute.

68) Lt Joe Carey – Offhand, I can’t think of a time I was ever angrier at a Trek episode than Voyager’s Friendship One. Firstly, it’s a Neelix episode, which is reason enough to be annoyed, but secondly I was SO HAPPY they brought Carey back. And then they killed him. LOVELY. Gits. In early Voyager he was one of B’Elanna’s team, and there was proper decent friction as she got his job. I miss B’Elanna’s engineering team; slowly killing them off/forgetting about them was rot.

69) Crewman Lon Suder (VOY) – Brad Dourif! Possibly the single creepiest Starfleet crewmember ever. And while I’m not exactly big on the ‘redeemed serial killer’ trope, if you’ve got to do it, do it this well.

70) Lt. Valeris (ST:VI) – Okay, she’s only there because of whatever the reason was that they couldn’t have Saavik back, and if you’re Not Me I understand that it’s Fairly Obvious she’s going to be one of the Bad Uns, but she’s another Interesting Vulcan, and a good performance from Cattrall.

71) Lt Commander Susanna Leijten (TNG) – Geordi’s buddy from an old ship in the perfectly decent Identity Crisis. She manages an interesting combo of vulnerability and competence, and I love her friendship with LaForge. Geordi is well big on the Awkward Romance Moments with women, so it’s awesome to see him have this really strong friendship with a woman. A lesser script would have tried to shoehorn in some romance.

72) Ensign Lyndsey Ballard (VOY)- Another character that on paper is clearly to be hated (too much chipper, top much buddies with main characters except we never saw that, too carpe diem, which is also literally their fucking motto). All this goop is saved by a super engaging performance, and it turns out to a pretty reasonable character piece.

73) Ensign Samantha Wildman – One thing I loved about early Voyager is there were a good handful of recurring characters. Sadly, Samantha Wildman got usurped by her kid, Naomi (though, tbf, Naomi was reasonable most of the time), and vanished partway through the show.

74) Lt. Alyssa Ogawa (TNG) – Mostly a bit part, but a reliable one, and it was nice to see her get a larger role in Lower Decks, and come back for a quick cameo in the movies.

75) Lt. Kyle (TOS) – The English member of the original Enterprise crew. Was that a real English accent? It sounded a bit odd to me, so it’ll be lolarious if he was actually English. ANYWAY, I always appreciated having some recurring cast in a series, makes the world feel more real, and it’s always yayful when Trek remembers that not everyone on Earth comes from the former United States.

76) Ensign Demora Sulu (ST:G) – Again, this is a character with a handful of lines and screentime, but still manages to be delightful.

77) Doctor M’Benga – Sometimes I worry about the people onboard the Enterprise who are injured second, or injured slightly less worse than the worst one, because WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF THEM? Happily TOS answered this burning question with Dr M’Benga, who also knows a fair bit about Vulcan biology, and will totally save your life while McCoy is busy keeping Kirk alive. He deserved way more than two episodes.

78) Ensign Robin Lefler – An early role for Ashley Judd, and one where she takes on the role of Love Interest of Wesley Crusher and both characters come out with their dignity intact. In fact, it’s easily one of the better Trek romances. It’s cute and fun, and almost makes you forget The Dauphin happened.

79) Captain Phillippa Louvois (TNG) – Point to her for coming onscreen and coming on to Picard. Even now it’s refreshing to see that sort of confidence in a female character (no coincidence that her episode is written by the excellent Melinda Snodgrass), and it doesn’t go stop there: she has a complicated messy backstory with Picard, having also prosecuted his court martial after he lost his first command, the Stargazer.

80) Ensign Travis Mayweather (ENT) – Ah, the final regular on the list, who I feel I’m being generous to even at this position. Ugh. Mayweather. Now even though there are some characters I role my eyes at, there has never been a regular Trek character where I thought the casting people really fouled it up. Until Mayweather. It’s so bad, so badly bad. I believe there are a couple of Mayweather stories but the only thing I can remember is the pain of boredom. Happily, the writers seemed to have noticed so in later seasons Mayweather’s role is reduced to a bit part. One line an episode! And that’s if he’s lucky. Thank goodness.

81) Crewman Elizabeth Cutler (ENT) – An engaging recurring role in Enterprise cut short by Kellie Waymire’s tragic early death at 36. She spent a lot of her time making Phlox a bit more interesting.

82) Lt. Leslie (TOS)- In all honesty I didn’t know who Lt. Leslie was until a few years ago. Then I found out he was in practically every TOS episode, and sometimes he died and came back to life IN THE SAME EPISODE. That is the amazingness of Lt. Leslie. Not to mention the fact he is a all-rounder who can take on any role required onboard ship. No Star Trek drinking game is complete without a Lt. Leslie rule. FACT.

83) Crewman Chell (VOY) – He’s a Bolian! I mean probably one shouldn’t put a crewmember on this list based wholly on their species, but Bolians! They’re blue. Also, I do love him a bit for being well judgey at Tuvok. It’s very sad that he learns not to despise him by the end of the episode, but those glorious scenes where he’s just “yeah whatev Vulcan dude” are smashing.

84) Lt Palmer (TNG) – One could argue that Palmer doesn’t do very much, and one would be correct, but one would be overlooking the fact she’s played by Mae Jemison, yer actual real life astronaut and the first black woman in space.

85) Captain Keogh (DS9) – Some people might argue that being the voice of Skeletor shouldn’t earn you a place on a Top 100 Star Trek list, especially when you also managed to get your ship and crew blown up but WHATEV. Alan Oppenheimer’s Keogh is a bit smug, and a bit chummy with our crew so it’s difficult to know whether to like him or loathe him, but the first time you watch this episode and he and his crew snuff it after a pretty tasty space battle, it’s a solid gut punch for a character who’s been with us for about forty-five seconds. Also, HE’S THE VOICE OF SKELETOR.

86) Mr Kosinski (TNG) – I have a soft spot for characters that piss off the crew of the Enterprise D, so while Kosinski is an obnoxious egomaniac, I can’t help but like him because he’s an obnoxious egomaniac to the right people. Sadly the episode decides to give him a smack and humble him as it turns out he’s not the genius he thinks he is.

87) Lt. Commander Dexter Remmick (TNG) – Another TNG character who doesn’t care much for the TNG crew. And another character form the first season too. Remmick actually appears in two quite decent episodes of that dire year, firstly to investigate whether Picard and the Enterprise have bee taken over by mind parasites, then to be the host of the big Mommy parasite before he offers peace to humanity and Picard decides to disintegrate him instead. I mean, MAYBE it wasn’t a peace offer made in good faith, but we’ll never know, because Our Heroes phasered him to death in TNG’s goriest scene.

88) Lt. Selar (TNG) – Yay, another back-up doctor! Selar manages to make an impression even though she’s only in one episode. It helps that she’s played by the excellent Suzie Plakson.

89) Ensign Sonya Gomez (TNG) – She spills coffee on Picard! That makes me lol. Also in the sort of Barclay category of Ordinary People Can Be In Starfleet Too cause when the ship loses crew she doesn’t cope well with it.

90) Admiral J. P. Hanson (TNG) – He’s only on the viewscreen, but he lends a hefty dose of gravitas to the excellence that is Best of Both Worlds part one. There’s something great in every scene but one of the standouts has to be Our Heroes watching helplessly as Hanson updates them on how his battle with the Borg is going. It’s not good, but Hanson remains grittily determined until the viewscreen statics out.

91) Commander Hutchinson (TNG) – Another TNG character the TNG crew don’t like. WELL SOD THEM. Hutchinson’s ghastly crime is to enjoy small talk. Naturally the TNG act like a bunch of tossers as they try and get out of having to go to the reception where they’ll be subjected to such horror. Now, small talk is something I find a bit confusing and uncomfortable, I admit (though I understand it is like social grease, or glue, or something?). But I’m not in Starfleet, and I spend way to much time in front of a computer screen, so what do I know? Anyway, I expect better of these people. Amazingly Data is the one who comes out of this best by deciding to ignore his crewmates’ warnings and go all in for the smallest small talk. He seems like he’s enjoying himself too. Well done, Data.

92) Captain Braxton (VOY) – One of two entries on this list who’re from THE FUTURE. Poor old Captain Braxton has the bad luck to run into Janeway and crew, get trapped on 20th century Earth for 30 years, and ends up losing it. Which I take as a lolarious Trek commentary on last century.

93) Ensign Vorik (VOY) – Vorik is another of the boring sort of Vulcans, and yet is weirdly likeable. I feel reassured when he’s around, and it’s nice that B’Elanna still has someone on her regular engineering team in the later seasons. And that it’s not all humans.

94) Ensign Mendon (TNG) – A Benzite! A rather marvellous TNG addition to the alien roster, points for being blue, more points for need a wee breather to cope with an Earth atmosphere, double plus points for pissing off Picard.

95) Admiral Cartwright (ST:IV, ST:VI) – Brock Peters! Also Sisko’s Dad. Also an actual *meaningful* reveal of a conspiracy member cause we’d already seen him in Voyage Home so we thought he was A Good Un but no, turns out he was sneaking about with the Romulans (yay!) to bring down the Klingons (yay!). Wait, why are we happy this plan failed?

96) Cadet Gaila (AOS)- It’s ghastly reading about the character’s conception. “Red hair! She’ll be even hotter!” Fucking hell. The people making the new Trek movies really don’t seem to have noticed that it isn’t 1966 any more. Anyway, despite these adolescent men people’s crap-o-rama, Gaila managed to win over a lot of fans in her handful of scenes. Fans who are women, I mean, and were kind of keen to see any women be given any role beyond Uhura because ffs why are you casting Trek like it’s 1966 still? Why would you do that? Have you no idea about what Trek’s creators were trying to *do* in 1966? It doesn’t work if you just repeat it, you have to push at the boundaries of what’s acceptable in *this* society, today, and fight for more inclusion, more diversity. Ugh. Anyway. Gaila. I liked her.

97) Captain Solok (DS9) – Unlike TNG, when we get someone on DS9 who doesn’t like Our Heroes, they don’t get automatic points. Solok is an exception, because he’s just such a petty git, and a Vulcan, and we’ve rarely been given a Vulcan with so few redeeming qualities. It’s always awesome when Trek remembers “Nooo, Planet of the Hats bad” and expands the range of worldviews we see, when that world ain’t Earth.

98) Captain Morgan Bateson (TNG) – Frasier! Did Kelsey Grammar just beg for a part, any part p.s. he’d really love to be in one of the movie uniforms cause they’re the snazziest? I don’t know. But it’s Frasier! In space!

99) Crewman Michael Jonas (VOY) – Look, folks, what can I say? I really love Knights of the Old Republic, and Mass Effect, and it’s Carth Onasi and/or Kaiden Alenko! On Voyager! Betraying them to Seska! And it’s pretty awesome. Though it ends in the least dignified way possible alas: brought down by Neelix. Embarrassing.

100) Crewman Daniels (ENT) – Just sneaking onto the list because although I don’t rate him, the *idea* of the Temporal Cold War was a nifty one. And there were hints of something compelling with him. Sadly, this was Enterprise, where unless there were going full blown fanwank (ah, season 4, how I love your nonsense!) compelling was not a thing they really manage to sink their teeth into.

And that’s your lot!

Game of Thrones 609 Battle of the Bastards and 610 The Winds of Winter

Game of Thrones, remember that? I was doing a super timely review thing after each ep and then thought it would be extra awesome to wait weeks after the final episodes before finishing it off. Yes. I didn’t forget. That would be silly.

BUT GOSH. If you can remember what happened in the last two eps of this season you’ll be remembering several hours of awesome. Season Six seemed super keen on paying off years of telly-watching, and nowhere was it more satisfyingly done than in these final two episodes. SUCH PANDERING. MUCH LOVE.

I went into Battle of the Bastards pretty hyped after seeing the trailer. Swords! Fighting! Sansa! And, lo, it was almost as much as my dizzying expectations expected. Which sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it’s not, I promise. It’s just every year the show has wowed with an even more awesome battle in the final weeks and so I thought it would do so again, but no. While there is no doubt this is a superb piece of on telly fight-y goodness, it didn’t quite eclipse the joy of watching last year’s Hardhome. Yes, even with the fact there were two battles happening, and one of them had dragons.

But twas smashing nonetheless. After the dragons doing SOD ALL for five years, seeing them soaring about the place, tearing up the battlefield was sublime. MORE OF THAT. And then Yara turning up in Dany’s throne room? BE STILL MY HEART. That scene between the two of them was everything I could have asked for. Two of my favourite characters, two women who fight wars in a patriarchal society, but two very different sorts of leader, bloody marvellous. Also PLEASE let Yara meet Sansa, and Cersei. And OH I rly don’t want her to die, even though I think she’s going to at some point, she should get to be Queen of the Seas.

Then what happened? SANSANESS. Also, other people. Like poor Rickon. Oh. That was a bit brilliant. Sadistically brilliant. And lolsome. I know, I’m a terrible person, but I did laugh; shusht, it’s okay, this is fiction. But rly, what a great way to use Rickon. He’s a cypher at this point, the kid brother they lost for years. The audience doesn’t give a dickens about him, and since his fate had to be dealt with at some point, let’s use it to advance the characters of two people we do care about, horribly. Sansa is ridiculous in her awesome here: I love how she’s completely right about Ramsay, but she struggles to articulate exactly what she’s trying to warn Jon against (basically, he will try and make you angry, don’t let him do it, don’t let him anger you into doing something stupid, which is just what happens.)

Also loled at Ramsay’s Edward I schtick in Braveheart of firing arrows into his own soldiers cause they’ll also hit the enemy.

And, damn this battle was *vicious*. Like, claustrophobic and dirty, violent in a chokingly visceral way. More than any other battle I’ve seen on the telly, it feels like it’s replicating the disorentiating terror and confusion of ye olde medieval large scale engagements.

Where it lost me a bit was when Ramsay’s ROMAN LEGIONAIRRES marched onto the field with their SHINY HELMETS and PERFECT FORMATION. Rly? RLY? Where did they come from? Where have they been training their little hearts out? That caused a serious knock in my suspension of disbelief because the professionalism and style of those guys was yelling ROMANS at me, when we’re in the pseudo-15th century otherwise, including all the battles up to this point.

One thing I was totally cheering the heck out of, but can completely understand if *this* is the bit you’re not so keen on as they did the eaxt some thing last year with Stannis, is when the Arryn knights sweep in to win the battle for Jon and Sansa. I might have cried, shusht. And I loved that it looks like they were trying to get the Arryn people all of the whitest horses they could find for SYMBOLISM.

Ramsay’s end. That worked for me. Like immensely. I wanted Sansa to have some serious revenge, and she got it. And, oh, I LOVE HER. I love every moment she’s had this season. Every moment of happiness, every ally she’s found, every triumph she’s had. I know those GITS are all cheering for bloody Jon Snow at the end, but WHATEV. Sansa is Queen.

And the Stark banner falling over the walls of Winterfell. Yes. I cried again. Shusht.

So after all that magnificence, I assumed the next episode would be a little more low key, a little bit of catch your breath as the season ends. BUT NO. It decided it would continue with the DELICIOUS AWESOME, but now in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FLAVOUR. I don’t think telly ever pandered to me so well before, it was ridiculous. Every episode with Cersei, I’ve ended up yelling “Burn it down!” at her. I might have mentioned that once or twice in previous blogs, and then SHE DOES. SHE ACTUALLY BURNS IT ALL DOWN. Or up, whatev. Close enough. The moment when I realised what she was going to do was a truly great moment of telly-watching for me. SUCH JOY. HOW CAN TELLY BE SO GOOD? And oh everything about it, EVERYTHING. From Cersei’s dress, and Lena Headey’s exquisite movements and sipping of wine, to the cracks in Marjaery’s composure, to the Sparrow’s superciliousness that ANY SECOND NOW WILL BE GONE FOREVER. And I love Marjaery, I do, and I’m a big fan of Dormer, but the character was going down at some point. And this was perfect. She’s worked her own plan to get out of a horrific situation, and she’s rescued her brother, and is about to bring down her greatest rival, when Cersei hits the nuke button. And Marjaery KNOWS, she knows something is incredibly wrong and she would have survived if it wasn’t for the inflexible gits of allies that she made who won’t let her out. IT’S PERFECT. No-one is stupid, everyone is in character, AND IT ENDS WITH A BIG BOOM. It’s amazing.

And so the Tyrells are wiped about, save for Diana Rigg, who’s now bent on revenge and heads for Dorne to meet up with Indira Varma. MORE GIDDINESS. I know they can’t win, they’re not the stars, but still. THEY ARE AMAZE.

What else? Arya murders Walder Frey. I don’t know how I feel about that. I mean,it’s fine. And everyone else is getting some revenge on, and it’s abt time that sod died, but still. It felt like a bit whoosh? Though I suppose that is assassination for you. And Arya can face-change! That was very neat. Presumably she gets to do interesting things next season, cause this season was not win for her. SURELY she and Sansa and Jon get to reunite, yes?

AND CERSEI IS QUEEN. REGNANT. That was quite great. Succession laws are fascinating things – we think of male primogeniture being “the norm” in ye olde times, but no. Much more useful was a big fuck-off army and lots of money.

It might have taken SIX YEARS, and DECADES if you are reading the books, but also show watching because stuff actually keeps happening in the show, but Dany finally SETS SAIL TO INVADE WESTEROS. I cheered.

Oh, this season. It is the best. GoT gets a lot of crit for sexist claptrap, which it’s often guilty of, and there are many criticisms I do agree with. But it also has a great array of different sorts of women, with different sorts of power, playing the game of thrones in very different ways. And when you give me numerous interesting women with power in your fiction, it takes a lot to really put me off it. I mean, yes, I would rather I could have that and less sexist claptrap, but here we are, at the end of season six, and all the great characters are women, and all the leaders, bar Jon Snow, are women. There’s a vast conflict coming with Cersei in King’s Landing just crowned Queen regnant, Dany and Yara leading an invasion of Westeros, Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Sand in Dorne plotting revenge, and Sansa in the north. With Jon Snow. (If you consider this unrealistic, I suggest taking a good look at the leaders of western Europe in the 16th century.) This is my fantasy catnip, people, women wielding political power, and dragons.

So, gosh, yes. Apparently there are only ten episodes left. HOW? I assume they will be perfection. Surely. Yes. OPTIMISM.

The Most Terrifying Thing I’ve Encountered in Fallout 4

There I was, just helping out a guy who’d locked his father in an asylum after he got an ancient artifact stuck to his head 400 years ago and lost his grip on reality, when I opened a door and there was this:



In the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 4, these bloody monkeys are to be found in various places. Normally I shoot them, despite getting neither XP or loot, because they are scary. But that is when they are alone. When this gang started flashing their DEVIL EYES and clapping their CYMBALS OF EVIL at me, I nicked the clean grey suit from the suitcase (not for myself, for my settlers, who are all well-dressed and have nice hats) and backed slowly out of the room, and ran away.

It’s still not as weird as that time in Dragon Age Inquisition, where I had to alt tab out in fear and confusion to ask the Internet what the dickens has just happened:


That is a large pork pie wearing a top hat. There was also creepy music playing. This DELIGHTFUL Easter egg was discovered after I fell under where Solas hangs out at Skyhold.

Game of Thrones 608 No-one

The antipenultimate episode of the season! And, gosh, it was quite good. It really has been a season of Stuff Happening. And that Stuff all ends of feeling rather meaningful as it’s been earned with oh-so-many hours of sod all happening week after week. Well, we have suffered, but season six is our prize, yay! So, what did happen?

Varys is off on some secret mission. One assumes either to murder Kevan Lannister or find that Targeryen prince who secretly wasn’t murdered BUT MAYBE the show has decided to go somewhere that didn’t have me banging my head against the pages of a book that could kill a thousand cockroaches and still prop up a caravan. Maybe.

“I choose violence.” Violence is bad. Irl violence, as a rule, is a ghastly awful terrible thing, which I’m sure you all know, but I just want you to know that *I* know that. Irl, I am a woolly pacifist, okay? So, bearing that in mind, when Cersei said that line, I jumped out of me seat and made flaily gestures of support at her. Because DAMN IT, she deserves some vengeful vengeance on the High Sparrow and his fanatics. And, politically, OF COURSE I’m on their side, but fictionally? I hope Cersei torches the Sept.

The Brienne and Jaime meet up was definitely one of those moments that was loaded with feelings and meaning that it couldn’t possibly have if we and they hadn’t endured a bloody year of them travelling together. SO WORTH IT FOR TWO MINUTES OF BANTER. Jaimie was actually chilling here, threatening Edmure. The fact that he admits what he does abt Cersei makes me think he’s being honest, and though he might yearn to be regarded as honourable, this is the kind of man he is at heart. (Though it’s not hard to argue it other ways – his vicious threats did mean that no-one on either side had to die, and as far as we know, the only one who *did* die was the Blackfish.)

And Tobias Menzies had lines at last! That was nice. Though what was the point of this Riverrun escapade? Was it just to get Jaime out of King’s Landing so Cersei was alone? I shouldn’t complain, it got Bronn lines. I like Bronn.

May have cheered as the Masters ships approached Meereen, thus proving Tyrion to have been horribly horribly wrong and Missandei and Grey Worm right. Less cheery, obviously, is that there’s a massive fleet of ships owned by enraged slavers attacking Meereen. But I’m sure it’ll be find as Dany has arrived and probably brings dragons with her so she’ll sort them right out, surely. Yes. Good.

Thoros of Myr! I didn’t even have to look it up, I watch this show too much. And…that dude! That he keeps bringing back to life! I can’t remember his name alas. Also, much guilt, but rly the Hound negotiating for how many of his friends’ murderers he gets to execute was lols, and also his annoyance that torture was right out.

And the big moment of the ep belongs to Arya. After a few scenes straight out of Terminator 2, she emerges triumphant and leaves behind her assassin training with the most cheering words of the season so far: “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m going home.” There may have been a tear, shusht.

I don’t know whether this season has felt so exceedingly proper because I’m writing about each ep, so more aware of what’s going on, or it really is just smashing. Anyway, next it’s to the battles! Exciting.