DID YOU READ

The top 10 Captain Picard moments from “Star Trek”

Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Generations

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5. Sleep

Most Star Trek fans will tell you the greatest TNG moment was during the franchise’s first ever cliffhanger, the end of “Best of Both Worlds Part I.” In it, Picard has been assimilated by the Borg and stares down Riker in cold gaze of mutually assured destruction.

But that isn’t really Picard – it’s “Locutus” – so it doesn’t belong on this list. (Plus, he’s threatening our space-faring friends. Not fun!) In the follow-up episode (after a long, long summer) Picard/Locutus is back aboard the Enterprise, looking rather pale, and trying desperately to break his mind free of the Collective’s hold. Struggling, though with a blank face, he struggles to squeak out one word to Data: “Sleep.” Data is able to interpret these instructions (it involves positronic matrices and information relays) and shuts down the Borg threat, just as Riker is preparing to ram the ship in a suicide run. Timing!


4. “Temba, His Arms Open”

Of all the far-out sci-fi on display in TNG, one of the most original episodes was season 5’s “Darmok.” In it, the Federation tries once again in vain to make contact with a civilization whose form of communication baffles their universal translators. It takes a marooned Picard (and a campfire) for him to break through the barriers and recognize that the Tamarians speak to one another in evocative metaphor. “Shaka When The Walls Fell,” “Kadir Beneath Mo Moteh” and “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” may mean nothing to you, but they mean everything to them – and to the hardcore dweebs who like to speak in Star Trek code.


3. Letting The Nausicaan Stab Him Through The Heart

Season 6’s “Tapestry” is the closest Star Trek ever came to Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life.” But instead of Zuzu’s Petals it’s a giant spear through the heart.

Picard’s achilles heel is located a little higher – he has an artificial heart and it has caused him some degree of stress over the years. When the omnipotent Q sends him back to his younger years, offering him an opportunity to avoid the dom-jot hall brawl that led to his injury, he takes it. He then lives a life of mediocrity.

Oh, yes, he serves in Starfleet, even gets positioned to the Enterprise, but as a forgettable, risk-averse junior officer. Heck, Riker can barely remember his name. In the end, Picard must choose his “normal” path, one that takes life for all its worth, one informed by an early near-death experience, and, as such, he smiles as he lays there bleeding from the Nausicaan’s blade.


2. The Truth!

It is important to take a nuanced view toward Wesley Crusher. It is too easily to just call him a know-it-all snot and wish he were eaten by a band of ravenous Tellarites. There are some good moments in the franchise that are because of him – even with that dopey rainbow sweater. However, when he left to join the academy and then got involved in an ethics scandal (“The First Duty,” season 5) all the pent-up aggression toward the luckiest kid in the galaxy came bursting forth.

Picard’s smackdown isn’t just an opportunity to call Wesley names. He’s too good for that. It is actually a fine platform in which he can espouse his vision of what the Federation and what Starfleet is all about. In a way, it is his version of Kirk’s “Risk is our business” speech. And rather than me quote it for you, let’s let the good Captain sum it up in eighteen perfect seconds.


1. There Are Four Lights!

But that wasn’t Picard’s best speech. His best speech, more of a howl than a speech, is a moment of universal triumph for all that are suppressed by a totalitarian state.

Taking its cue from George Orwell’s “1984,” the two-parter “Chain of Command” (season 6) sends Captain Picard into the dark abyss of physical and psychological torture at the hands of the horrible Cardassian, Gul Madred. In an effort to soften him up and get Federation defense codes, he points to a fixture with four lights and asks how many there are. Until Picard will see it Madred’s way and say there are five lights, he will continue to inflict horrible pain.

Picard’s spirit is greater than either man can know, however, and no amount of torment can make him relent. Though he can barely speak, Picard slurs out the defiant phrase “There are four lights!!” Even when he is rescues, he spits it back in Madred’s face one last time. As an extra bit of badassery, he shoves one of the guards, despite barely being able to walk. Yeah, who said Picard wasn’t as tough as Kirk?


Jordan Hoffman is a regular contributor to Film.com, ScreenCrush and writes the weekly “One Trek Mind” column at StarTrek.com.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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