"The better part of valor is discretion, in which the better part I have saved myself."
And so, lacking the computer security of my convictions, I have deleted the last post; sent it off to the great 011010111010 in the sky. Now it's nano-dust on an unremarkable, anonymous asteroid, which is what I imagine Internet Deletion Limbo looks like. Just a beat-up asteroid, all covered in the micro-schmutz of everything that's ever been deleted online. Every now and then, the ghost of John Glenn goes around with a leaf blower, and all our dusty old www.sins and mistakes go flying off into space. When he's done he throws a stick for Laika the space dog, and they have a nice time.
Having given the issue careful consideration, the conclusion is in: Captain Johnathan Archer was a better captain than Captain James Tiberius Kirk.
There. I said it.
Archer did his level best with way less than Kirk had to work with. His poor ship could only do warp factor 4! And even though there wasn't a Prime directive in Archer's time, he always tried to act as though one was in place. His crew was more disciplined and far less likely to get dead. He had a special ops team, the MAKO's. He was also burdened with something at the rear of the bridge that would blow up like the Fourth of July every time the ship bumped into a rock. That had to be super distracting for everyone involved. But he made it home, ended the Temporal Cold War, and participated in an apology ritual involving a chainsaw, which is badass.
Kirk was, God love him, basically a pirate. Well, a privateer, lets give him that much. And he knew it; his friends knew it, his superiors knew it. Nobody had any illusions about Kirk. What he had going for him was a natural ability to command. He was a born explorer. He had charisma, sincerity....and he was one wily sonofabitch. Odysseus in space. Never turn your back on Kirk.
Another thing I've noticed is that you get the feeling that yes, the NCC1701 crew has been together for a long time, they're all familiar with one another, they're kind of sick of each others' bullshit, and it's business as usual as they interact. That has yet to be reproduced in any of the Trek series. Oh, you get a standout character, or pair of characters (think Quark and The Constable) here and there, but in TOS all three of the primary players and their adjuncts are strong personalities, and I think that's why it still has the magic.
Captain Picard...was a CEO. He was a negotiator. A diplomat. Kind of a cold fish, and kind of pissy, too. Now I love me some Picard, do not get me wrong. He would fuck you up. But dear Lord the poor man was surrounded with floor sweepings, like a bunch of junior fankids got together and cobbled up characters, then the producers reached into a hat, picked one, and then told the writers 'bash to fit, fuckers.' I kind of hate to credit Whoopie Goldberg with anything, but Guinan is the only other character on that ship worth a damn. The rest are just walking loose ends with no feeling of real connection going on at all.
Now, I love Brent Spiner, but he was just cringeworthy on TNG. Do not get me started on Wesley. No. Or Deanna Troi, yech. Or the Doctor, gaaah. WTF, woman, leave the kid at home. And what the fuck was Riker? All he did was run around with a beard. Mr. Worf had so much character potential! It wasn't for fault of trying on his part. The writers on that show just had their heads up their asses when it came to writing the crew of the Enterprise. But their worst sin? When all else fails, why, fire up the holodeck!
I'm glad that TNG was there to carry the flag. The fact that the series even existed is the best thing about it.
There you go. Now that I've gotten all the important matters out of the way, the rest of you kids can discuss politics and covid and trivial junk like that. You are welcome.