Down the Ballot

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Top 10 Star Trek TNG List: Guest Stars

To help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek The Next Generation I am going to be generating some Top 10 lists. Just some little fun for you Trekkies or for folks that are not, but would like to learn a little bit about Star Trek The Next Generation.

TNG was a show that attracted artists of all walks of life. For some it was just a job, and for some probably a thrill of a lifetime. Here are my Top 10 favorite guest stars of STTNG.

10. Mick Fleetwood
I'm a big Fleetwood Mac fan, and I didn't find out until years later that Mick Fleetwood actually guest starred early on in TNG. The Season 2 Manhunt featured a race of aliens called the Antedans, of which Fleetwood played one of the fish aliens. According to Star Trek Communicator, part of the agreement involved his accepting was his character taking the transporter in return for having to have his beard shaved off. This is a great guest star/cameo because with all the make up on Fleetwood you don't even recognize him. (Star Trek Communicator issue 152)

9. Daniel Davis
If you ever want to class up an episode of television just add Daniel Davis. He appeared in not just one, but two episodes of NextGen. First in Elementary, Dear Data and Ship in a Bottle. He portrays that famous Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle villain Professor James Moriarty. In TNG, Moriarty battles the wits of Lt. Commander Data in the holodeck. What is great about Davis is that between roles like this and his role on the sitcom The Nanny, he is often mistaken as a British actor. He is in fact an American from Arkansas.

8. Mark Lenard
The ability of Star Trek to tell stories and to carry stories and characters through the years is amazing. Mark Lenard reprises his role as Spock's father Sarek in the third season episode Sarek. He has appeared in three Star Trek television series and three Star Trek films as the famous Vulcan Ambassador to the Federation (Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek III, IV, VI and then Star Trek The Next Generation). In his two appearances on TNG I feel his character was fleshed out a little more and the audience was given a chance to see that not every character just fades away never to be seen again. The end of 'Sarek' is especially powerful. Star Trek is rarely mentioned in the award circles for the dramatic acting, but this is an episode I think ought to have won something for Lenard and Stewart's performance.

7. Jennifer Hetrick
All fans of the TNG remember Hetrick's appearance in Captain's Holiday as Vash. She was such a lively character that she was able to come back in Qpid, and the DS9 episode Q-Less. Vash was adventurous and sexy, which brought out the adventurer in Captain Picard when they hunted for the Tox Uthat. Fun bit of Picard trivia here, Hetrick was just one of two serious relationships Picard developed during the run of the series. Can you name the other?

6. DeForest Kelley
Talk about a guest star! D Kelley appeared in the very first episode of TNG Encounter at Farpoint. He was the first original series cast member to appear on TNG. Gene Roddenberry approached Kelly about the part and reportedly Kelley. He accepted and the rest is Trek history. All the great McCoy aspects are shown in his short scene with Mr. Data. His disdain for transporters and annoyance caused by Vulcans. McCoy was one of the few characters in the original series that had anything remotely interesting as a background story. He was divorced, and had a daughter. Kelley ended up being the first of many original series actors and actresses to find a guest spot on TNG over the next seven seasons.

5. Ashley Judd
Remember Wesley Crusher's girlfriend Robin Lefler? That was a young Ashley Judd. She made two appearances, the first in Darmok and then in The Game.  Since her appearances in TNG, Judd has had an acting career spanning two decades. Star Trek TNG is where she got her start. Her character Robin Lefler had developed 102 rules to live by. Every time she learned something new in life, she made up a rule. Can you remember any of them?

4. Leonard Nimoy
Ok...ok.. Spock was on TNG. What more needs to be said? His two episode appearances were great. Not only was he in them, but Mark Lenard, Stephen Root, and Denise Crosby also made appearances. Unification I & II were the highlights of season 5. The story was even advanced further in Face of the Enemy. It was clever of the writers and producers to only give Nimoy the final moments of the first episode, it really did a good job of building up suspense. This episode had Romulans, Klingons, mystery, intrigue, suspense, and betrayal. I only wish this story could have been developed more in the TNG era.

3. Robin Curtis
I have always liked Curtis over Alley in the battle of who played the better Saavik. I wish we could have seen more of her in the TOS films. Luckily for Trekkies, we were able to see her come back and play a villain in TNG Gambit episodes.  Her character Tallera  gets plenty of screen time with Picard on Vulcan and attempts to use emotions to kill people. She has since mostly retired from professional acting, though you can occasionally catch her at Star Trek Conventions.

2. James Doohan
Jimmy, we still love you. His appearance in the TNG episode Relics does give some cannonites problems, but for most of us it doesn't matter. Doohan brings the beloved Montgomery Scott "Scotty" to TNG. The crew find him stored away in a transporter. He had been there for 75 years, when the ship he was traveling to his retirement colony crashed landed on a Dyson sphere. There are some great scenes that pay homage to the TOS. The holodeck scene is particularly touching.

1. Kelsey Grammer
There are lots of performers who could have made my number one slot, but by far one of the best guest spots done in TNG is by Grammer. Mostly, it is great because it is so quick. It happens at the very end of the episode Cause and Effect. The producers originally wanted Alley back as Saavik, but instead landed Grammer. He plays Captain Morgan Bateson. Stuck in a temporal loop for 78 years, he finally escapes along with the Enterprise. Grammer's character goes on to appear in several books and in the Star Trek The Customizable Card game.

Who was your favorite TNG Guest Star? Over at you can find out who the cast of TNG had a fun time working with. 
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