It was the summer of summer of 1986 and I was just a young fanboy spending my school days daydreaming about life in the final frontier. While I already wrote about how Star Trek changed my life on the Hero Blog, I wanted to dive a little deeper in the significance of The Next Generation. Eons before Netflix and Youtube, I was still on a steady diet of Star Trek reruns and a handful of movies. I was an Original Series fan ever since I could remember and I would have never imagine a new generation would be a reality. When I first heard rumors of the return of Star Trek to television, I couldn’t believe it. I was both elated yet skeptical. How could they possibly have an Enterprise without Captain Kirk at the wheel?! I was convinced it wouldn’t live up to the legacy and its contribution to Trek would be short. But how could I wait a year to learn more about what was to come? We had no internet, no Comic Cons, and no regular publications except Starlog Magazine (remember that one?). What was I to do?
The geek gods found favor on me. Somehow, I was gifted what I presume to be a production Bible for what I learned would be “Star Trek The Next Generation“. An older friend gave it to me and I didn’t ask questions about it. This red binder was filled with a couple of hundred pages that were copies of copies. Clearly it was not a fan guide or Trek encyclopedia, but something not intended for my eyes. Many of the photocopied pages were barely legible. Contained in this treasure was EVERYTHING to know about the upcoming series, that was still a year out from premiering! It had so much detailed information that I kind of doubted the legitimacy of it. For a year, I studied every page, illustration and diagram. Translating the detailed descriptions into moving images, I dreamt the potential of this series. I even had a Star Trek wall calendar (remember those?) and I counted down the 365 days till the first episode. Waiting was excruciating. You guess you could say, ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times’.
Needless to say, I fell in love with Star Trek The Next Generation… although it was an adjustment. TNG was a much different approach than the Kirk era, but it was for the better. Reboot and sequel culture started a long time ago largely due to Star Trek. However, I can’t think of any franchises that opted to bring in a distinctly older (and balder) lead to replace the traditional swashbuckling hero. Patrick Stewart brought so much character and gravitas as Captain of the Enterprise that is really unlike any protagonist inside or outside of the Trek universe. Jean Luc Picard was strong, decisive, courageous yet still human and compassionate. His sense of justice and conviction to do what is right informed much of my youth. Besides being a tremendously talented actor, Patrick Stewart has also been a role model to a ‘new generation’. He has become one of my favorite actors today.
For many years, I wrestled with the age old question of who was my Captain- Kirk or Picard? A debate that seemingly circled every Star Trek Convention from the late 80s and 90s. Out of loyalty for the legacy, I would default to Kirk. It’s now been 18 years(!) since we’ve seen Jean Luc in uniform (Star Trek Nemesis). The world has changed both in reality and in the 24th century. Since that time and almost two decades of rewatching The Next Generation and her movies, I can without a doubt say that Jean Luc Picard is my Captain. Besides my respect for the actor, I feel like the Picard is the kind of leader we need in today’s crazy world. No disrespect to James Kirk but I’m not sure his style of leadership has aged well. I eagerly anticipate the new adventures awaiting in Star Trek Picard. Whatever happens, I’m sure it will be a worthy chapter in Jean Luc’s legacy. I’m proud that our first Star Trek piece for Hero Within is specifically a Picard Jacket. In many ways this is a dream come true for me. I designed this ‘adventure jacket’ to be both stylish and utilitarian. It’s super comfortable but very functional. Something you could wear camping or out socially with friends. Aesthetically, I wanted it to symbolize the journey that Picard will be on for this series. If you are a big Trekkie like I am, I think you’ll love this jacket. I made it with you in mind… and for the purpose of going where no one has gone before. More to come so stay tuned!
Tony B Kim