I’m reading ‘Just a Geek‘ by Wil Wheaton, enjoying it very much and loving the honesty that Wheaton has when talking about his career, family, life after Star Trek and his writing. I’m only familiar with him from TNG but I do have a copy of ‘Stand by Me‘ sitting on my desk that at some point I will get round to watching (along with ‘The Goonies’).
On the way home from work tonight I was thinking about my feelings towards Wesley Crusher. I’m twenty-two, too young to have seen the original run of TNG but do have fond memories of watching the re-runs on BBC 2 (which for me was the first time seeing them).
Originally I hated Wesley because the episodes he was in were usually the rubbish ones (or at least early on) and always featured him saving the day somehow. Re-watching them now I can appreciate what the producers had tried to do; Wesley was aimed at the younger viewers in order to make them go “wow, he’s a kid like me I could be on the Enterprise and save the day!” I still dislike the character but for different reasons than I did when I first watched the show.
If I had been a member of the crew, got through Starfleet Academy and been good enough to get what was probably the most sought after posting in the universe, and then this kid comes along who is not only smart but the son of one of Picard’s closest friends and he gets given a prestigious position as a helm officer on the Enterprise just because a strange alien creature told Picard to give him encouragement and opportunity… I’d have been pissed off.
I’m imagining that to be a helm officer you need to pass some sort of flight test and get certified (basing this on my knowledge of the RAF and Royal Navy), so that poor crew member who had worked hard got all the right qualifications and experience who put their name forward for consideration as primary conn officer, missed out.
Having been in a similar situation not so long ago, I can’t begin to tell you how angry and upset I was by what happened.
We were having a restructure at work as the production lx was leaving and the rig maintenance was being brought in-house. I went off for a week off and came back to discover that the dep who was coving for me was now full-time in-house, responsible for operating the lighting board and overseeing the followspots… I opened the show as a followspot there, I’d been through the technical period and two years down the line you could consider me sort of head followspot as I was responsible for overseeing teaching and making sure the show was always spotted well. Prior to that I was the board operator at a different theatre, and I’m a qualified electrician.
This dep had been with the show for what I would say equalled a month, during the times she was in for maintenance with us we’d found out she actually knew less than she said but since we were all learning that sort of thing doesn’t get mentioned.
I made the decision that it was going to be my last night working there, I couldn’t stomach what had been done and I was angry that no one even bothered to tell me there was a job going that people knew I would have been more than interested in (I’d been asking since the show opened if I could learn the board and that had been what my original terms of employment had been).
I was angry and my boss came to speak to me, I told him exactly what I thought of his decision (I didn’t care by that point, I was leaving as far as I was concerned). I went home that night and wrote my letter of resignation, then spent the night panicking about getting another job and coming to the conclusion that I’d have to go back North.
I got a phone call in the morning from my boss which was basically “you were right, I’ve screwed this up. Can you come in for an interview this afternoon?” – I went in for what turned out to be just a formality, I had the job.
I hope that doesn’t sound like I got my way but that’s what happened. To me now it seems like someone got screwed over by Picard putting Wesley in as the helm officer and either this person just swallowed their pride and carried on with their job or they asked for a transfer.
That’s what makes me dislike Wesley, was that the producers made him into the character that other people resent. Even when he gets to the academy I imagine that he’s isolated again, not just by coming into an already established group but because he’d be perceived as someone who got given an extra special opportunity.
I don’t hate Wil Wheaton though, he’s just the actor who played Wesley and you can’t blame him for the material he had… although the fact he told the script writer of ‘Nemesis‘ it was the best Star Trek film since ‘Wrath of Khan‘ and the best TNG movie, which looses a few points from me 😉
(This is random but my boss was a child sci-fi star, he was Steven in ‘The Tomorrow People‘)