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Laughter and Banter Fill An Evening with the Cast of Star Trek Next Generation

IMG_2859The showcase event of the Comic Con Toronto weekend was a reunion of the Star Trek Next Generation cast minus Wil Wheaton aka Ensign Wesley Crusher.

Microphone problems marred most of the 90 minute event but it seemed that those issues bonded the cast with the sold-out crowd and was a source of laughter of the evening.

Hosted by the cast of Innerspace, the trio got each of the cast to tell one story about the person they were sitting next too.

Jonathan Frakes aka First Officer William T. Riker shared a story of how he and Brent Spiner (Data) once put Marina Sirtis’ (Counselor Deanna Troi) Yorkshire terrier (Frakes called the dog a rat) in the microwave so it could dry off after a bad LA rainstorm.

Marina then shared a story on how she loved to take walks with Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher) during the first season of the show but after she was let go for the second season, she was sad but glad that she came back for season three.

Gates shared how she and Levar saw Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard) playing Shylock at RSC’s production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and tells him that it is the favourite thing of his that she has ever seen. And for that Patrick rewards her with a kiss.

Patrick shares a story of how Levar Burton (Geordi Leforge) on the first day on the Star Trek: The Next Generation set, he took the whole cast out to lunch.

Levar shared how Michael Dorn (Worf) and Brent Spiner visited him when he was in the hospital and how Michael used his jet to help him and his wife fly home. Brent chimed in on how Levar wanted to punch him during his visit as Brent tried to make Levar laugh after he had abdominal surgery.

Micheal shared how he Brent have so much in common that includes their love of old movies and how they would do dueling impressions of Marlon Brando, Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck to which both men then proceeded to do impressions of.

Brent then went on to share what he loved about Ajay from Space’s Innerspace. Of course, Brent was joking and shared his memory of Jonathan Frakes and the one time he stayed with Brent, he put on a pink robe and that is how Brent’s son remembers Jonathan as the man in the pink robe.

Before the crowd got to ask their questions, Ajay wanted to know how much of an influence were Gates and Marina’s characters were to women considering that it was recently International Women’s Day. Gates responded that while there has been great progress made to women in the world today more still needs to be done. She was happy that their characters were role models and hopes they continue to be.

The first question from the crowd was did any of the cast know about Star Trek before taking the job and how do their feelings now. The only person that didn’t know was Patrick Stewart.

Marina answered that she had heard of Star Trek and its characters but wasn’t aware of the fandom surrounding it. Now that she has been in this world for a while, Marina said the thing that she loves about the fans is that they have built a family together and a home.

When asked if they added any of their personalities to their roles, Patrick misunderstood the question as did their characters have personality. Jonathan chimed in and said wasn’t Jean-Luc Piccard supposed to be French. Patrick then shared how there is a video somewhere of him reading a line in French accent for an audition. Patrick then proceeded to say said line “the final frontier” in a French accent.

Levar shared how he was on the set for the first day of shooting Star Trek Voyager and how the original Captain Kathryn Janeway was supposed to be played Genevieve Bujold but her French accent “wouldn’t fly.” Marina quips that she hates the French but the Gates starts speaking fluent French with Marina jokingly telling Gates to stop sucking up to the Québécois in the crowd while the Innerspace hosts hoped that the next question wasn’t from a French person.

One of the questions that I really enjoyed was a young lady asked Patrick Stewart what his favourite Shakespeare quote is and asked the same from the rest of the cast.

Patrick said that he had his favourite quote crocheted and framed in his home and it is from the play All’s Well that Ends Well:

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together:
our virtues would be proud if our faults whipped them not;
and our crimes would despair if they were not cherished by our own virtues.

Marina just blurted out how her favourite play is Hamlet. While Michael Dorn, who recently played Duke Senior in As You Like It quoted from his character, which got the cast to applaud and Patrick to kneel at Michael’s feet.

Someone asked what did the cast take from the show as it ended. Jonathan took a phaser and a space suit, Marina took three space suit and the director’s chair that had her name on it. She tried to take one of the Observation deck chair but didn’t manage it. Patrick took his communicator, Levar took his visor, and Michael and Brent took nothing but wanted to.

When a very young fan asked if the cast was sad that the show ended, Patrick told the crowd that he was more sad that the Star Trek films that featured the TNG cast stopped. There was talks with Star Trek Nemesis screenwriter, John Logan, that saw the next TNG movie would have been great and add some great Star Trek lore but the film studio said the reason why TNG films ended was because of “franchise fatigue.”

Other highlights:

  • Jonathan shares how he went to his childhood home and went to the fridge and found that his mom had put a picture of Patrick Stewart on it. He later found out it was actually a picture of him and Patrick but how his mom just folded the picture so he wasn’t in it.
  • Marina credits Patrick for making Star Trek: The Next Generation great because the Power That Be listened to him.
  • When someone asked Levar, Michael and Brent what it felt like playing minorities, Jonathan asked what minority did Brent play (i.e. a machine), Brent joked how he knows how it feels to play a black man. As Brent was telling this story, Levar was doubling over with laughter and had tears coming from his eyes.

When asked if there should be another Star Trek TV series, Marina Sirtis offered up a few ideas like The Rikers’ in Space that would be a half-hour sitcom. Gates suggested a show that reunites the cast at vary stages of dementia playing poker and Marina called it a space-age Amour.

Tons more questions were asked and many memories shared during the event that is too much to write it all down but one joke seemed to have tickled the crowd something about four lights seems to have been a very funny joke.

Earlier in the day, Levar Burton and Gates McFadden did a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open Comic Con Toronto. Where I did get to ask one question during the media scrum and that was if Gates would be on The Big Bang Theory to which she responded that it would be up the fans.

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About Vanessa Ho (927 Articles)
Pop culture addicts' view of the world of TV

1 Comment on Laughter and Banter Fill An Evening with the Cast of Star Trek Next Generation

  1. Mike McDunn // March 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm // Reply

    Being in the third back of the room the sound issues made the overall event a miss from my point of view. I was totally disappointed. You had to strain to see and hear the actors. The screens at the sides of the stage were miniscule. The camera man didn’t seem to know where to point the camera at times. I definately wouldn’t do it again. The facilities were sub par for what’s supposed to be a world class facility in a world class city. (Chicago was right onT.O.) . I thought the actors were going to throw their microphones at the sound booth at one point they seemed so frustrated. Hats off to the cast, they kept up their spirits and made the best of a poorly organized event.

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