DID YOU READ

The top 10 Captain Picard moments from “Star Trek”

Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Generations

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By Jordan Hoffman

While the 1960s were a bit more reliant on a boozy machismo, the 1990s were all about diversity, intellect and the cultured enrichment of the mind and spirit. At least that’s my takeaway from comparing the two great captains James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard.

This is not to imply that Picard couldn’t (or didn’t) kick ass. He simply did it in a slightly more dignified way (oftentimes simply dispatching Riker, Worf and Data to the away team.) Picard’s memorable moments were usually a cutting line, delivered in his stage-ready British accent (even though he was French…go figure.) Part of the Picard method was to solicit advice from each of his senior officers, then usually ignore them and do what he wanted to do in the first place. In this spirit I offer the top 10 Picard moments, and invite you to argue with me in the comments below. I won’t change my mind, but at least you won’t slink back to Ten-Forward feeling ignored.

(Are you a Kirk fan or a Picard die-hard? As part of IFC’s “Trek Week” we’re pitting the two baddest Enterprise captains in town against each other. Chime in with your favorite at #TrekWars on Twitter and click here to see our airdates for the nine “Original Series” and “Next Generation” films.)


10. Having A Drink With Scotty

One of the nicer aspects of Picard’s personality is his respect for his elders. It comes, no doubt, from his studies as an archeologist (his road not taken) and on more than one occasion it manifested itself in the most fan-friendly way possible. More than his mind-meld with Sarek or political intrigue with Spock, I dig his his after-hours libation with “Captain” Montgomery Scott.

See, Scotty’d been held in emergency stasis outside a Dyson Sphere for just long enough to pull a tremendous guest shot on the season 6 episode “Relics.” As the two sit on a holodeck version of the NCC-1701 (“no bloody A, B, C or D!”) and discuss leadership, duty and old friends, I defy any of you not to start blubbering. It’s Scotty’s moment, but Picard leads him there, and has enough character to know when to take a back seat to a legend.


9. Who You Calling A Taar’Chek, Targ?

Picard’s zest for learning and respect for other cultures isn’t just good for drawing room conversation. It can come in handy when the usual channels of diplomacy don’t seem to cut it. It takes a lot of sand to look a Klingon military governor in the eye and call him. . . well . . . this surely isn’t the type of place to translate the vile, Klingon curses that Picard spews forth. That Patrick Stewart can do this with such resolve (and without laughing!) proves he really earned his paycheck that day. Below, behold this awesome moment from the season 4 episode “The Mind’s Eye”


8. Starship Mine

I have now firmly established Jean-Luc Picard as a scholar and an aesthete, so I feel compelled to point out that the man can kick ass when needed. In season 6’s “Starship Mine” he single-handledly triumphs over a band of marauders who attack the Enterprise when it is empty. (It’s basically getting sprayed for bugs, in the form of a deadly red beam that, silly though it may be, works as a nice ticking clock.)

The best part, clearly, is when Picard sneaks up behind one of the terrorists and lays him out with a Vulcan Nerve Pinch. (Note: Kirk once remarked to Spock “you’ve got to show me how to do that” but he never did.) For fans it is especially exciting because the actor that Picard lays low is none other than Tim Russ, who would later play the Vulcan Tuvok on “Voyager.”


7. The Line Must Be Drawn HERE!

There’s some more of the physical Picard in “Star Trek: First Contact,” without question the best of the Next Generation-era films. But before he swings above toxic fumes to break the spine of the Borg Queen, he unleashes some pure (and very dramatic) rage at Alfre Woodard in his ready room.

She accuses him of letting his previous encounters with the Borg (see below) dictate his refusal to set the Enterprise to self-destruct. She calls him obsessed, like Ahab hunting the whale. No! Picard shouts. Noooooooaoaawawwawwawwooawww! And he smashes a display case of model starships. “They invade our space and we fall back! They assimilate entire worlds and we fall back! Not again!”

It’s a powerful moment (and a reminder that Patrick Stewart is a real actor) but, of course, he soon realizes that Woodard is correct. He makes preparations to blow up the ship, and then fate steps in the way.


6. The Ressikan Flute

No one said all of these moments had to be fraught with action or conflict. They do, however, need to be rich in drama.

At the tail end of season 5’s “The Inner Light” (frequently selected as the best TNG episode ever) Captain Picard has to somehow try and shove aside the emotional earthquake that the past forty-years of his life has only been an implanted experiential hallucination. And yet, he lived a rich life, had a family he loved and watched a civilization die. He also learned how to play a small flute and, in the solitude of his quarters, accompanied only by the rumble of the warp core, he plays a few notes that show that he isn’t going to just turn his back on his other life. It’s a simple moment, but it is enough to bring tears to any true fan’s eyes.

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With a career spanning five decades, “Weird Al” Yankovic has defined the song parody genre and become a beloved pop culture icon. Starting June 3rd, you’ll be able to catch him as the brand new Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader Fridays at 11P on IFC.

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The Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader gig seems like a natural fit for you. Did it take any time to get acclimated?

Weird Al: Yeah. It’s a slightly different skill set. The accordion is my main act, but I don’t use it on the show at all. It’s a keyboard setup. The actual setup is a little bit of a combination of what Reggie [Watts] had and [Kid] Cudi had. And a few extra things thrown in. So I’m trying to do my own version of what they brought to the show.

You’ve been on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and the show many times. Do you have a favorite CB!B! character?

Weird Al: I’d probably have to say Doctor Time. Every time Scott wants me to do an evil character, he’s always got a bad English accent. [Laughs] Any time my character goes evil, he becomes sort of British.

Any favorite guests you’ve worked with?

Weird Al: Gosh, I love them all. Paul F. Tompkins is always fun. His Andrew Lloyd Webber character, Cake Boss, everything he does. And Andy Daly as well. They’re so versatile and so amazing at improv. That’s the one thing I was a little nervous about because I’ve never been super confident with my improv skills. But Comedy Bang! Bang!, particularly the TV version, is good for that because it’s all heavily edited. So it kind of gives me permission to try out whatever comes to my mind, so if it really sucks, they’re not gonna use it. [Laughs]

Scott Aukerman Weird Al

Your upcoming tour is a continuation of your Mandatory Fun tour from last year. Any new elements to the show?

Weird Al: Well, it is the same tour, so it’s not that much different. I might freshen some video a little bit. I’m hoping to use a bit or two from the current season of Comedy Bang! Bang! and slip that into the show somewhere.

The tour starts June 3rd in St. Petersburg, Florida and ends September 24th at Radio City Music Hall. How do you keep up the pace? 

Weird Al: It’s just a mindset. I’m really only working for two hours a day, so I basically just save up my energy for the show. I relax, surf online, watch satellite TV, read a book, rest my voice, and then give it all I got when I’m onstage.

Looking back at your vast song catalog, was there ever a parody that came to you immediately upon hearing the song?

Weird Al: Yeah, that’s happened a few times. More often than not, I have to think about it and analytically work out all the variations on a theme that I can and pick out the one with the most potential. But there’s been a few times where the idea came to me spontaneously. I think the first time I saw Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video, before it was even over, I thought, “Oh! I gotta do ‘Fat’! Super-plus-sized actors trying to get through a turnstile on a subway! I gotta do that!”

Do you have a favorite of your many hilarious videos?

Weird Al: Oh boy, it’s hard to say. “White and Nerdy” has been my biggest hit and that was a really fun video to do. But in terms of making a video, “Tacky” was really fun to do because it was so easy and I got to work with amazing people like Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal, Eric Stonestreet, and Aisha Tyler. And we knocked it out in a couple of hours. We were having so much fun while making it, I kinda wish we weren’t so efficient and professional. [Laughs] I could’ve done that all night.

Was it filmed all in one take or was it stitched together?

Weird Al: That was all one take. Some people say, “Oh, I see where the edit is,” but it was all one shot. We did a total of six takes, and I think four of those takes were usable, but the last one was the best.

And you were directing while performing?

Weird Al: I directed that one, yeah. We location scouted and found a building in downtown LA that I thought was good for the shoot. I’ve since seen that building in a lot of other movies and TV shows — I think it was used in The Big Lebowski and a few others. It was difficult because I start the video in one set of clothes and I also end the video in a completely different set of clothes. So while the cameras were off me, because there’s only one elevator in the building, I had to run down five flights of stairs, quickly change my clothes, and hit my mark for the end. And after the take, we’d all just watch what we did, and say, “OK, let’s do it again.”

Is there a director you’d love to work with in the future?

Weird Al: Oh gosh, yeah, but I mean, music videos are notoriously low-budget so that’s why I end up directing them myself. [Laughs] But I’d love to be in a movie codirected by Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino.

Do you have a particular genre of music that you love parodying the most? Or is it more of the moment and different for each song?

Weird Al: It doesn’t necessarily revolve around personal taste so much. It really depends more on the song than the genre. But I found rap songs tend to lend themselves to parody, mostly because there’s a lot of words to play with. A lot of pop songs are repetitive, and that’s sometimes been an issue. With rap, there’s no shortage of syllables to mess around with.

Given that you’ve been so prolific and done so much, is there any type of art left that you’d like to dip your toe in? Dramatic acting, perhaps?

Weird Al: Well, if Spielberg and Tarantino want me for their film, I wouldn’t want to turn them down. But there’s no burning desire to do drama. I love doing comedy and feel comfortable doing that. Writing a musical might be something I do down the line. I don’t know when but I might take a shot at something in that area. Other than that, I’ve done pretty much all I wanted to do in my life so far. A lot of it not successfully. [Laughs] But I took a stab at it and feel gratified by that.

You’ve had such a eclectic career in music and comedy. What do you attribute your longevity to?

Weird Al: [Laughs] I don’t know what I’d attribute the longevity to. There’s a modicum of talent, but it’s mostly because I surround myself with very talented people. I’ve got a great support group, I’ve got the same band since the early ’80s, and I’ve worked with the same people for decades. And I got a very loyal fan base and I love what I do. And somehow I’ve been very lucky and it’s worked out so far.

Watch “Weird Al” in an episode from the new season of Comedy Bang! Bang! right now, before the season premiere on Friday June 3rd at 11P.

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