Doctober 21: Smut Trek

Could you imagine if someone ever tried to do a Star Trek/bodice ripper romance novel crossover? I wonder what something like that would look like.

Probably something like this…

Yeah, that looks about right to me. And by “right” I mean “Omigod, the horror that has been seen can never be unseen right up until my very last breath.”

I’m still not sure how “Sub Rosa” even made it into the queue of “Viable Options” for TNG scripts, let alone how it actually made it to the screen. Yes, denizens, as much as it pains me to say this, I’m going to have to ping this episode as one of the worst TNG episodes ever made…possibly even one of the worst Trek episodes ever made (although I couldn’t sleep well for a week after watching evolved/devolved Janeway and Paris doing things that captains should never do with their pilots o_O).

The fact that this was probably the one episode from all seven seasons of TNG that dealt the most with Dr. Crusher makes this realization even worse.

This is what I waited seven years for?

Sigh.

I’m not going to review the actual episode. I’m instead going to link you to this review, which pretty much covers the awfulness in a very honest and amusing way (this review is also from where I paraphrased the quote on the “cover” of my trashy novel). I will, of course, note that I do disagree with this reviewer’s supposition that this episode was so craptacular in part because Gates McFadden was lacking in acting ability. As I’ve pointed out in previous posts about her performance in “The Naked Now” and “The Big Goodbye,” I think she was more than capable of handling an episode by herself. Just not this episode. Seriously, I don’t even think Meryl Streep could have made this episode anything less than awful.

The author of the previously linked review describes “Sub Rosa” as “the nadir of Girlie Trek.” I think that’s pretty on-target. This episode offended me on several levels, least of which was the fact that when finally they decide to give Dr. Crusher an episode, it’s one of the least sci-fi and one of the least meaningful episodes ever written for TNG. Honestly, many Trek episodes are nothing more than morality tales (often rather thinly) disguised as science fiction. This one doesn’t even make it that high up the subtlety ladder…unless, of course, the moral of this one is “If a strange green gas starts coming out of a candle toward you, it’s probably best that you don’t let it sex you up.”

I can assure you, denizens, I didn’t need Trek to teach me this lesson.

I’ve asked this question numerous times, but I’ll ask it again here: Would this have ever passed as an episode idea for any of the other CMOs from any of the other shows? Would Dr. McCoy have ever been asked to writhe around on a bed as he’s pleasured by an “anaphasic energy” entity? What about Dr. Bashir? Not seeing it?

Neither am I.

For all its praise as a forward-thinking, progressive show, Trek was staunchly misogynistic in undeniable ways, and episodes like “Sub Rosa” reveal this truth in ugly and demeaning ways. Yes, women were allowed to do more than bring the captain his coffee in TNG, but if this is what you think passes as good sci-fi for women viewers, then perhaps you should head on over to Caprica and see if they need writers.

Meow.

Beyond these issues, the bottom line is, “Sub Rosa” is just bad. What makes this even worse is that it didn’t have to be awful. This could have been a cracking “ghost” story. It also could have been a more thorough examination of all the questions surrounding Dr. Crusher’s past: What happened to her parents? What happened on Arvada II? Why did they recreate Scotland on another planet? Did they recreate Nessie as well? Why is there a pig-face alien running a Scottish colony? Why is Deanna wandering around in the background after she leaves the cemetery with Dr. Crusher? Why was Dr. Crusher’s maiden name Howard when it’s obviously a name from her maternal grandmother? Did her mother not take her father’s last name? How, then, did Beverly get the name Howard? Was it tradition in that family for the husband to take the wife’s name and pass it on their children? Then why didn’t she keep the name Howard? Why is she now a Crusher? Have I made your eyes cross yet?

Again I say, sigh.

So, there you have it denizens: I don’t love everything related to Dr. Crusher. But I don’t hold it against her that we saw way more of her bedroom proclivities than I think any of us ever wanted to see. And she’s still my favorite TNG character.

Oh, one more thing: At least the set designers had a bit of fun on this episode. Check the names on the tombstones behind Ronin:

I love geeky inside jokes.

Doctober 20: Pretty Hep Lookin’ Broad

For all their silliness and over-the-top strangeness, I love Dr. Crusher’s scenes when she first enters the holodeck in the TNG episode “The Big Goodbye” (which, of course, is the episode from which I pulled the images for my very first Doctober posting).

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/ZqhbHLQl0Ss?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6

I say silly and strange because, right out of the gates (haha), would you enter the holodeck if those doors were wigging out like that? I’m going to have to say no, Bob. I most definitely would not. Of course, I also would hightail it in the opposite direction if I was alone in a dark house and I heard a strange noise coming from the attic or basement. I’d apparently make both a terrible sci-fi and horror movie character.

I also highly doubt that Dr. Crusher wouldn’t know basic things like how to “powder her nose,” regardless of the “ancient” trinket she’s found in that ginormous purse of hers. What? Do the women of the future just stick their faces into a replicator in the mornings and have their makeup applied that way? And would gum really no longer exist in the future? For some reason, this has always made me feel a bit sad. Everyone should know the joy of chewing gum now and again. And bubble blowing, too! I always wanted to see Data try to blow a bubble with a fat piece of Bubblelicious.

Also, listen to Data speak to Dr. Crusher when she enters the police station. “What’s cookin’? He’s on ice. He’s bein’ grilled.” Those lines would have worked had Data actually been able to use contractions but had made the conscious choice not to use them (which was Roddenberry’s original intent for the character). However, Data was supposedly unable to use contractions. It simply wasn’t within the parameters of his programming. So, regardless of the fact that he’s “in character” at this time, he still shouldn’t be able to contract words.

But now I’m nit-geeking.

Never mind all this though. These are some great scenes that once again showcase how lovely, funny, and physical Gates McFadden was in this role. Her quick teeter down the stairs in the police station always makes me laugh at how simple and small the moment is, but how delightfully executed it is as well. I stand by my conviction that she was perfectly wonderful as Dr. Crusher and that she could have made this character one of the standouts of the series if only more writers had given her opportunities like the ones given to her in this episode.

Doctober 19: Look At My…Zebra

Something simple and silly this morning, denizens: This is my First Contact Dr. Crusher action figure astride a zebra stress squishie. She sits on my desk here at work. Right next to her is Data on a cow stress squishie (but he’s not in this photo because this is Doctober, not Datatober, dammit).

And to think that some people actually hide their geekery…

Doctober 18: Mrs. Crusher

When not bringing medical comfort to the residents of the Alpha Quadrant, Dr. Crusher does enjoy a bit of thespianic diversion. She is, after all, head of the Enterprise’s theater group. She’s an actress, a dancer, a playwright, and she mixes up a mean sangria for the wrap parties (bet you didn’t know that last part, did you?).

In her honor, therefore, the master painter Thomas Gainsborough IX did this rendition of Dr. Crusher, based on his ancestor’s famous portrait, Mrs. Sarah Siddons:

Here, of course, is the original painting, for a bit of comparison.

Mrs. Siddons is one of my favorite portraits by Thomas Gainsborough. When I first went to London in 2003, one of the things I was most anticipating was my first trip to their National Gallery of Art, to finally see so many of the paintings that I had fallen in love with throughout my art history studies. Gainsborough’s portraits were, of course, at the top of my list of desired stops, and his portrait of Mrs. Siddons was a definite. She’s a massive, gorgeous painting, after all, and slightly more enjoyable (at least to me) than Joshua Reynolds’s version of her as a tragic muse.

So we reached the Gainsborough room, which was curiously bare in several spots and conspicuously Siddons-free. I walked over to one of the empty spaces, which serendipitously ended up being Mrs. Siddons’ regular space, only to find a little paper placard that read: “Mrs. Siddons: Currently on loan to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.”

Had it been any other American gallery, I probably would have introduced the British patrons around me to an unpleasant string of frustrated American-bred profanity. However, all I could do, really, was laugh at the freakish timing of this turn of events. I finished roaming through the London National Gallery, which did indeed contain many other artistic favorites that quickly made up for this particular disappointment, and when I finally returned to the D.C. area, I made a special trip to our National Gallery and did finally get some face time with Mrs. Siddons.

Doctober 17: Cover Girl

A long time ago, in a geekery long since tempered (but obviously not by much), I wrote a novella all about Dr. Crusher. I know that I have mentioned this many times here. I also know that I have never really given any details on the novella beyond the fact that it’s about Dr. Crusher.

The truth is, it’s quite an embarrassing bit of writing, and I’ve only ever showed it to a handful of people I know and trust (to those whom I will probably never meet who bought my story, I’m very sorry; my only excuse is that I wrote it when I was 15-17 years old…and I was a raging nerd with limited life experience at the time).

What I will show you all, however, is the cover art that I drew for the story. Once upon a midnight dreary, I also considered myself an artiste. I used to practice sketching and everything. I haven’t done that in years, however, so who knows what my sketching would look like now. One step up from stick figures, I suppose 😉

Here, then, is probably the last pencil sketch I ever completed (minus the outline sketches I do for work designs or random doodles jotted down during staff meetings). These are the three primary characters from my story. I know so many of you are surprised right now. The empty white space is from where I removed the title of the novella. A geek’s gotta keep some things to herself, you know…

Doctober 16: Not Now, Doctor!

You know it’s going to be a long assignment when your first regular day on duty, your son takes over Engineering, you end up becoming infected with a virus that makes you feel drunk, and you try to jump the captain in his ready room…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksR1ZCfpg3A&w=480&h=390]

I know these scenes are from an episode of TNG that most fans deride, both for being a ripoff of a TOS episode and for being a horrible choice for a first episode right after the pilot. Even the actors hated this show because, they argued, how were they supposed to know abnormal behavior for these characters when they hadn’t even had time to establish normal for them?

Still, I laugh at the blatant, ballsy lust with which Crusher goes after Picard. This is the only time we ever see this kind of behavior from her (although it does make one wonder what might have happened had Jean-Luc ever tried to split a bottle of Chateau Picard with her over dinner one evening). The rest of the time, it’s usually Picard doing some sort of subtle pursuing while she gently but consistently rebuffs him.

The story that Gates McFadden always tells about her audition for TNG is that her agent arranged for her to go to Paramount a few days before she was scheduled to leave to return to the NYC theater scene. So she went in, met with TPTB, and proceeded to ask which of the female roles was the funniest. Well, the scene they had for the Dr. Crusher role was this ready room scene from “The Naked Now.” Obviously way funnier than anything for Tasha Yar or Deanna Troi (you know, other than Deanna’s hair from that first season).

So McFadden chose Dr. Crusher, did her audition based on this scene, and the rest is history. I wish that Dr. Crusher had lived up to the funny, flirty bawdiness of this scene, not only for McFadden but also for viewers. Could you imagine seven seasons (because, in my world, Dr. Crusher would have stayed on the Enterprise…where she belonged) of watching her develop as a character, knowing that this kind of humor and teasing disregard for Picard’s stuffiness roiled right beneath the surface?

[Loba Tangent: One more thing before I jet…hear the noise that Picard makes at one point while Dr. Crusher is standing very close? I believe that is the noise that is supposed to signify when he becomes infected as well. Here’s the thing: This virus was only transmitted through touch. The camera is well close to their faces, so we can’t really see what’s going on beyond their heads. This moment has always made me wonder: Where, exactly, is Dr. Crusher touching him right then?]

Doctober 15: Petulance

Poor Dr. Crusher. All she wants is the chance to sit next to Captain Picard during a staff meeting. Maybe then, she’d finally get to flirt a little…wink every now and then, maybe even play a little footsie. But that damned Riker always beats her to the conference lounge! It’d be easy if she got to sit on the bridge like every other member of the senior staff (minus Geordi, of course).

[Loba Tangent: Hey, waitatick! Why is it that the two crewmembers who were assigned to places other than the bridge are the two who were the least developed on the show? I call occupational discrimination!!]

Regardless of what’s really going on in this scene, I’d call this is one of the greatest screen captures EVAR. I’d also call it the greatest pout moment in the history of Star Trek.

Doctober 14: Random Bevernalia

One of the magnificent things about being a lifelong Dr. Crusher fan is the fact that people have often felt compelled to purchase anything pertaining to the good doctor for me. These items are such a rare find, I suppose, that people (even non-Trekkies) get excited for me that finally there’s something Crusherific to be added to my collection!

Here, then, are a few of the random bits of Bevernalia that I have received as presents or purchased for myself, that I found whilst sorting through one of my geek bins (yes, I did say one of them):

What I love most about this collection is that looking at these items, you’d think that only two publicity photos were ever taken of Gates McFadden as Dr. Crusher (minus the Generations pin and the Dixon Hill card). Probably the oddest item here is the “security badge,” which is in between the two postcards. Really? They’d have security badges on lanyards in the future? Okay. And the Generations pin stuck in the lanyard was a gift from a high school friend who actually hated Star Trek, but gave this to me after I jokingly asked her where my graduation present was.

Oh, and the signed card? I was one of those geeks. I actually mailed this card to McFadden and asked if she would please sign it for me. In my defense, I only did this with four trading cards: Dr. Crusher, Data, Captain Picard, and Ro Laren. I received three of the four back. Guess the fourth got lost on its journey to Bajor… (grumble grumble, rhubarb rhubarb, peas and carrots)

Very few people, I think, knew that Playmates released a medical tricorder in addition to the standard one. I own both, but really, I only bought the regular tricorder because I didn’t think they’d actually release one like Dr. Crusher used. They’re both quite cool when all lit up and running their sounds. Playmates did a lot for the Trek geek on a budget, releasing pretty impressive replicas for reasonable prices.

Then there’s this medical tricorder:

Looks a bit odd, eh? That’s because it does this:

Isn’t that one of the greatest things EVAR? It’s a medical tricorder that transforms into Dr. Crusher’s sickbay, complete with little figures of Dr. Crusher, Geordi, and Captain Picard as Locutus of Borg.

Look at how cute Tiny Beverly is!

So, there you go. Random Bevernalia on a dark, rainy (at least in DC) Doctober day.

Doctober 13: Copper Penny Bev

I had something completely different (and admittedly less creative) planned, but then I realized that today was Doctober 13! Admittedly not as special as it could have been had today been Friday, but still it is that date that most distresses triskaidekaphobics (triskaidekaphobians?).

So I started thinking of ways to make the day a little more palatable for those who fear unlucky, and I decided what better way than to give you this, the luckiest penny in the galaxy! Originally issued by the United Federation of Planets in 2379, this is a one-of-a-kind Dr. Beverly Crusher copper penny (do you have any idea how rare a material copper is in 2379?).

Of course, it has no actual monetary value, since the UFP runs on a rather questionable credit system that has never really been explained. But think of the collector factor of this piece!! Not even Kivas Fajo had one of these in his collection!

I’m telling you, even if you’re a Red Shirt, you carry one of these around in your uniform pocket and you’re guaranteed to make it home, every away mission.

Doctober 12: Bookish Beverly

Not only was Dr. Crusher severely short-changed when it came to TNG screen time, but she was also pretty neglected in the books as well. True, she’s getting far more attention in the post-Nemesis book series since she is one of the few remaining original senior staff (plus, there’s the whole “being with Captain Picard” development that TPTB finally approved now that it really doesn’t matter), but the books that I have read from this run have been, to put it as politely as possible, a bit shit.

Prior to this post-Nemesis interest in her character in the novels, in fact, Dr. Crusher only appeared on the covers of a handful of TNG books: The Children of Hamlin, Chains of Command (which came out well before the similarly titled two-parter “Chain of Command”), Imbalance, Dragon’s Honor, The Death of Princes, and A Hard Rain.

[Loba Tangent: There might be more than this, but these are the only titles that I can immediately recall from the list before the first time I lost interest in the TNG novels.]

[Loba Tangent 2: Dr. Crusher’s silhouette appeared on Death in Winter, which is probably the one book that deals the most with her character. Too bad it was utterly meh. Still, I own it. In hardback. Sigh. I’m such a Crusher geek.]

It’s been years since I read any of these books, so I can only say that I remember liking Children of Hamlin and Chains of Command most of all these. Of course, I was a teenager when I last read them, so admittedly they might be terrifyingly awful to read now. I should add them all to my growing piles of books I want to read, just to see if it’s really worth it to hang on to all of these Trek novels.

However, of all the covers, I have to say that my favorite is the cover of Chains of Command. Not only is Dr. Crusher the obvious focus of the painting, but her pose is taken from one of my favorite publicity shots, of her wearing one of my favorite lab coats. (Yes, I have favorites from Dr. Crusher’s array of lab coats; I happen to like this one because it’s the only one to ever have a groovy black collar. Seriously, if you haven’t realized the depth of my pure dorkery by now, I have to question your ability to comprehend what you’re reading.)

The artist even altered the “Crayola Crusher” hair color from the first season to match the hair color she sported from season three onward. Sadly, I don’t know for certain whether or not this is a Keith Birdsong cover, since there is no signature visible. Regardless of who did this cover, I still love it, even almost 20 years after I first bought this book.