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Chris: Seeing as how I don’t watch Star Trek and therefore am woefully out of the loop, I have nothing of significance to contribute.

However, like The Dude, I still abide.

Okay, Dan has informed me that I am required to actually talk about this debate, despite, and I reiterate, knowing so very little about Star Trek. The extent of my knowledge extends through the first season of Voyager, about three episodes of The Next Generation, and the first episode of Enterprise. Plus I’ve seen the J.J. Abrams movie and thought it was cool enough. Not my favorite, but not the worst.

What this means is that I have no loyalty to a single captain whatsoever. I like Picard the most, but only because I like Patrick Stewart as an actor the most, and Janeway was fun, but only because that’s the series I’ve spent the most time with. I hear this debate brought up over and over again, and I do feel like I should have more of a drive toward Star Trek in general as I spend a lot of time on the Internet and this is one of the required gospels or something, but I simply can’t muster up the time to care. And why is that? Because I hate stories involving boats.

How does Star Trek relate to boats? Well, to me, a space ship is just a boat in space, so I get bored really easily. I asked Dan and Kyle during our traditional Izzy’s lunch break whether they’d accept a free ticket to live on a space station and while Kyle said yes, I was adamant that I wanted to stay firmly rooted to Earth. Granted, Kyle regretted his decision after I added stipulations for that free ticket, specifically that he must randomly sex-up aliens as the space station sees fit, but he does get a healthy supply of pudding to soothe the emotional scarring. It was a strange lunch indeed.

Back to Star Trek, this debate didn’t instill me with the desire to pick up a series and plow through it, but I will say that I ultimately had to be the deciding vote behind the scenes and so I am the reason Picard was chosen, partly due to Kyle explaining how Picard was more careful not to allow his crew to die, making his ship my preferred vessel. Of course, I’d prefer to stay as far away from space as possible, but that we already knew.

Ugh, Dan is really putting me in a bind since I’m literally out of things to talk about. I just can’t get into the series for whatever reason, so I constantly feel distanced from a large group of people. Not begrudgingly though as I feel no animosity toward or from this group, but just a very powerful indifference, much like the Bond debate from a few episodes ago.

I think the take-away from all of this is that when I lose the ability to talk about video games, I lose far too much of myself. Dang. Keep on truckin’, Dan and Kyle. You are truly champions in this nerdy arena of ours.

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Kyle: While I think the debate speaks for itself in regards to Kirk vs. Picard, I’d like to pull it back and address something that kept growing in the comments.

Evidently, you folks love Benjamin Sisko. I never cared for him myself. I understand the appeal, but my main premise during this debate is which Captain would be better to serve under. And in my mind, Picard trumps all of the Captains in Trek. Including Sisko.

Sisko is a brilliant tactician, and without him the Dominion War would have destroyed the Federation. But he lied and Machiavelli-ed his way to bringing the Romulans into the war. And he also poisoned an entire colony just to stop one man.

I would not be able to serve under a man who shifts his morals to suit the situation. Picard was often frustrated with a species-of-the-week and their different values/procedures/customs, or possibly with a Starfleet regulation. But he almost always complied with the solution that was morally right.

Sometimes this would cause him to break the Prime Directive. Sometimes it would mean the death of a sentient. No matter the situation, Picard always endeavored to preserve life and protect the innocent. But if someone got hurt in that process, Picard would at least express regret. Sisko outright notes in a log entry (later deleted) that he felt no remorse or guilt for his actions.

I guess the Captains really personify the eras in which they were created. Kirk represented masculine action. Like James Bond, he was a symbol of virility and heroism that the Western world clung to after World War II, when war and world affairs were becoming less honorable.

Picard was a symbol of diplomacy and the “Can’t we all just get along?” attitude of the late eighties, when the self-esteem movement reached its peak and various therapies for self-reflection were growing.

Sisko, just a few years later, represented the “world police” attitude of the mid-nineties that was also reflected in movies like True Lies, and lampooned in others like Team America. This idea that whoever has superior firepower can claim the moral high ground after the dust has settled.

As for Janeway and Archer … I’m sorry. I never watched those two. I might sometime soon, but to me they seem like such rehashes. Especially Enterprise, which seemed like someone pitched First Contact: The Series and then forgot what made First Contact awesome.

At any rate, wouldn’t it be grand to get more Star Trek on television? Discuss.

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Dan: Star Trek, I know, right? I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I like Picard more than Kirk. “But Dan, unless you are suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s, didn’t you just admit that you debated the side that you didn’t agree with?” Yes, yes I did. Kirk is very important because he established that the captain of the Enterprise is the guiding light that has to carry the show, but Picard was the first captain that had to follow in another captain’s footsteps. Boy did he, and his show lasted many more seasons than Kirk’s ever did because of it.

I enjoyed The Original Series, absorbed The Next Generation, enjoyed a large portion of Voyager, and caught a few episodes of Enterprise before falling asleep from boredom. I watched all of one and a half episodes of Deep Space Nine, because it was stuuuupid. Booooring. Duuuuumb. Which is why I was flabbergasted by the outpouring of support for Sisko. Really? He punched Q, and that’s why he’s the best? I feel a Picard facepalm meme image coming up. Maybe it’s personal preference, but I watch Star Trek for the escapism, not to see what damaged individuals would do while surrounded with future tech. Sisko started wars, lied, committed crimes, and wasn’t played by Patrick Stewart. Why would he be best?

Anyways, onto the points. I grabbed the first one with the kiss seen round the world. A main character on a wildly popular TV show kissing a supporting cast member who was black, at the time was a very big deal. Still to this day, this kiss is a trivia question at bars, a test answer in American history classes, and a thorn in the side of current racists. It was a big thing, and Kirk with all his bravado and testosterone was the only man who could make it happen. Picard might have romanticized the slow burn middle aged romance with Crusher that might have led to cougars being popular, but if that’s the best you got, you got nothing.

Kyle grabbed the second point thanks to the redshirt joke. Kirk would send redshirt after redshirt to their deaths, and for a captain to continually kill off his crew, that’s not going to get you any captain of the year mugs. Picard simultaneously kept more of his people alive and lost a main character that really impacted the show. When you think of Kirk, the image in your mind is usually him on a planet either punching or shagging the natives. When you think of Picard, he’s usually on his bridge coordinating the awesome.

I picked up my second point for comparing Kirk to the friendly boss, while Picard was more akin to the boss you pray worked from home that day. Sure, by the end of each series the crew of each captain was close, but Kirk started out that way. Picard for the most part kept an air of authority that he didn’t have to keep punching people in the face to maintain.

I felt Kyle got the next point because Picard was aware of his weaknesses. Kirk probably thought he didn’t have any, or perhaps he just ignored them until a bridge killed him. Knowing that relating to children poorly was something Picard had to work on made him stronger, and then throwing in Wil Wheaton added an extra layer of stress, what with Picard wanting to bang his mom and all. Having a weakness but admitting to it is much stronger than thinking you are invulnerable. You might have a weakness for … bridges.

Kyle got the next point because of Q. Kirk fought many semi-gods, but none of them stuck as hard as Q, and none of them appeared in every other Star Trek series after Picard. In the first, as well as the final episode of TNG, Picard had to deal with Q using him as a litmus test for whether humanity should be allowed to exist or not. That’s a lot to deal with, and Picard took it in stride. Sure, there were some hokey episodes with Q doing strange stuff, but everyone knew that he could mean business if he wanted to. Picard had the ability to compartmentalize the weight of his species with Wesley being whiney and wearing a strange grey jumpsuit. Good on you.

Kyle’s last point stemmed from Picard being a Borg, and doing it a hell of a lot better than 7 of 9 did, though he never got to fill out the breastplate as well. Kirk was always doing his Kirk thing, and he was always Kirk. Picard had all that he was stripped away, and then after he was rescued, there was residual fear that lingered. Perhaps had I brought up the racism (Speciesism?) that Kirk felt toward the Klingons to combat the distaste Picard had for the Borg, I could have combated this point, but I didn’t.

I frantically tried to get a last point, but it was too late anyways. Even Space Nazis couldn’t win the day, and so the prize went to Kyle. A fine debate, sir, and a find captain to sit in the chair.

Now I think I’ll hop over to Netflix and enjoy me some Jean-Luc.

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.

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