Last weekend in Austin, Texas, eight Star Trek: The Next Generation actors came together for a weekend of fun and fandom. Sir Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and even Wil Wheaton all attended, and while the usual fan activities of autograph hunting and cosplaying were going on, the real fun was the three cast panels.
The ladies (McFadden and Sirtis) had one on Friday night, and it was a fun romp down memory lane that led to an interesting discussion of women in science. It seems that while Sirtis is pessimistic about that (and who can blame her, really, with things like The Jersey Shore so popular), McFadden is still optimistic. Trivia-wise, we learned that Marina Sirtis despises milk chocolate, and because her figure was such a huge concern to the producers of TNG , she only had them serve Troi milk chocolate so that she wouldn’t actually eat it. She’d spit it out in a bucket off screen after takes so that she could remain lean.
Another interesting tidbit was more insight than I’d ever previously heard about why McFadden left the show for the second season. She felt that Beverly Crusher, who had raised a child on her own and achieved the rank of Chief Medical Officer on the Federation’s flagship, was never given the chance to parent her child. Gates thought it odd that every teachable moment for Wesley was given to Picard, Riker, and later, LaForge. The higher powers of the time disagreed, so McFadden was let go. This interests me. I might have enjoyed seeing actual family interactions on TNG . I love the show regardless, but that is food for thought.
The entire cast did a group panel on Saturday. This one was a hoot. Levar and Wil tossed some seriously funny good-natured insults at each other and the entire cast clearly had a wonderful time together. Oh, and for the Tasha Yar fans out there (come on, I know you exist), it was interesting to note that the cast considers Denise Crosby one of them, despite her short tenure on the show. Sexist, misogynist, and racist scripts were openly discussed and everyone was astounded, like most of us, that the show went beyond that first, terrible season. And the fact that a “cache of prune juice” was referenced by Michael Dorn was pure comedy gold. (Hint: he doesn’t need us fans to bring him prune juice. Ever.)
It was perhaps even funnier than the confirmation that Sir Patrick is a briefs rather than a boxers man and that Wil Wheaton still hasn’t beaten the original Castlevania .
On a completely different note, everyone in the room sang together not once, not twice, but three times. As for the opportunity to go to space, the cast had mixed reactions. Some would go, and some would not, but never fear: Wil Wheaton graciously offered to take the seats of everyone who wouldn’t go, namely Michael “That shit is dangerous” Dorn, Marina “We sent chimpazees to die” Sirtis, and Brent “I don’t even like to stand” Spiner, so we Trekkies would at least have plenty of representation.
Patrick Stewart did a solo panel on Saturday, as well, but I didn’t attend that, so I must apologise that I cannot report on it.
On Sunday, the men (minus Sir Patrick and Wil) did another panel, and it was as much fun as the others. I was happy that Dorn picked Jadzia as Worf’s best romance; that Frakes believed in the Imzadi pair of Riker and Troi; and that Brent felt even Data felt a real connection to Ishara Yar. But I felt truly sorry for Levar when he pointed out that “Geordi didn’t have sex.” When Frakes immediately started to protest, Burton’s dejected “hologram” said all we needed to know. Poor guy!
And while I know many other questions were asked and many more wonderful responses were given (most importantly, Frakes is as sick of “The Inner Light” as I am), the take-home message of that panel was all about pants. Yes, the way you fine folks mean that word. A young lady, following up on Levar’s interest in this the previous day, asked about the underwear preferences of the group. The question was prefaced with serious remarks about Reading Rainbow and even a few tears of overwhelmed emotion. Talk about a stealth attack! Levar remarked, “I did not see that coming!” Neither did anyone else. Bottom line (pun so very much intended): both boxers and briefs for Frakes, joke answers from Dorn and Spiner, and commando for Burton – at least when he’s in jeans, which he very noticeably was that day. Take that as you will, I suppose.
And on that note, I’m off. There’s just nothing that can follow that. Live long and prosper, my fellow fans, and if you ever get a chance to attend one of these reunion panels, for the love of all things Trek, go!