The beloved crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D were not always the people we know and love and have become so intimately familiar with over the years.
Though Star Trek: The Next Generation did not undergo as radical a transformation as some shows do between preproduction and filming, there are still a handful of drastic differences between the show as conceived and the show as aired, in particular in terms of the characters. There are a number of surprises in store for the Next Generation fan who decides to look back into the show’s early brainstorming sessions and first-draft series bibles, and before we boldly go off into the show that was, I think it’s important for us to take a moment and reflect upon the show that almost was. A show that is many respects the same as the one we all know, but in many others significantly different, and, perhaps in some respects, more intriguing.
This essay then is not a straightforward transcription of the original Star Trek: The Next Generation Writer’s Guide by Gene Roddenberry, but is rather an amalgamation and distillation of a number of early drafts and ideas that Roddenberry and the team were working on before the cameras finally started rolling. I make no pretenses that I’m organising all this according to any particular structure or logic apart from the one that emphasizes the things I think are most important to focus on and keep in mind about this period of the show’s history. Honestly, I’m not even sure the actual preproduction of the show was as ruthlessly concise and methodical as I’m making it out to seem, but I maintain my goal here was to create a sort of unofficial, pseudo-bible for a version of Star Trek: The Next Generation that had a very respectable chance of actually happening. With that in mind, let’s have a look at
The New Crew
Captain Jean-Luc Picard, played by Sir Patrick Stewart, takes his name from Swiss inventor and explorer Auguste Piccard. Auguste is famous, along with his brother Jean-Felix, for their scientific expeditions in hot-air balloons to record data on the upper atmosphere, their studies of cosmic microwave background radiation and their invention of the bathyscaphe Trieste, which his son Jacques piloted to Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, the deepest point in Earth’s oceans.
Captain Picard is described as an aesthete; someone who enjoys the “privileges” and “eccentricities” his rank affords him. A veteran officer, Picard got command of the Enterprise due to already being a “24th century Stafleet legend”. I seem to recall someone commenting once in a Star Trek magazine that Roddenberry had described his conception of Captain Picard as a dashing, suave and debonair “hairy Frenchman” who enjoyed things like fine wine. Apparently, women in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s universe consider men like Picard (who is described as being in his fifties) to have “just entered [their] best years”.…