Fans love to debate which “Star Trek” is the best. Some believe that the love of a particular show is a generational thing; writer Keith Wilson used data analysis and polling to show that when a person was born has something to do with it; good writing and acting make a show great.
From what he collected, Wilson showed that the Trek shows that fans liked the best were “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine.” Wilson spoke with the fans reported that DS9 had the best writing, followed by TNG.
So the theory that which Trek show a fan grew up with determines which is their favorite is not a valid argument, using Wilson’s data. Thinking that if one grew up in the 2000s meant that “Star Trek: Voyager” would be a favorite makes as much sense as the old Curse of the Bambino against the Boston Red Sox. Instead of a silly curse, it turned out that the Red Sox just needed a stable of great pitching to get some World Series rings.
The Hair of Picard
As they are both so highly regarded by fans, it might not be a coincidence that both shows had a bit of a squabble when it came to the hair of their leading men. According to Trek lore, lack of hair on Patrick Stewart’s head was controversial for the team casting the new show in 1986.
According to Rick Berman, who took over running the franchise after the death of Gene Roddenberry, the creator did “not like Patrick Stewart” or “the idea of a bald English guy taking over and stepping into the shoes of William Shatner.”
Berman said they looked at 50 or 60 different actors for the Picard role and pushed for Stewart, even though Roddenberry was against it. Berman noted that before the final audition, he had Stewart wear a wig because he didn’t want “this guy going in bald.”
“So Patrick … made a phone call to London, where his wig lived,” said Berman, “And he had the wig sent over… FedExed over from London. I remember the box arriving at my office. Patrick came in, and somebody was there to help him, and he put on the wig.”
Stewart read for the role, and Paramount’s John Pike — the same guy who created the now-famous TNG casting sheet — said, “Go with the English guy. But lose the wig.”
Berman said that “those were the best three words that we could have heard.”
After Stewart won the role, the public, too, reacted to his baldness. To that, according to writer David Pescovitz, Roddenberry said famously: “By the 24th century, no one will care.”
Avery Brooks’ ‘Important’ Hair
Since Stewart could not grow hair, the producers thought it was better to let his head just be. But when they cast Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko for the spin-off series “Deep Space Nine,” hair again became an issue.
Brooks was known, at that time, for his role on “Spenser: For Hire” as Hawk. Eventually, Hawk got his own show. For the part, Brooks sported a shaved head and goatee. That is the same look he had on Seasons 4-7 of “Deep Space Nine.”
According to ScreenRant, it was a part of Brooks’ contract with Paramount that he keep the hair. It turns out that both Brooks and DS9 showrunner Ira Steven Behr pushed for Sisko to shave his head.
In the documentary “What We Left Behind,” Berman told Behr that there was a lot of “conversation about African American men and facial hair. It was something that was very important.”
In the documentary, Behr said that it took three seasons for Paramount to allow Brooks to shave his head and grow his goatee.
“This is a look that he was very clear on,” said Behr. “This is how he felt comfortable as a person in life.”
In the film, Behr pressed former Paramount Television chairman Kerry McCluggage for an answer as to why it took three seasons for them to relent and allow Brooks to adopt his ‘look.’
“I do think going in, particularly that he was coming in off of ‘Hawk,’ we were also in the 24th Century, that we thought it would be a mistake to go … to … lack of a better word ‘street,’” said McCluggage.
Later in “What We Left Behind,” Penny Johnson Jerald, who played Sisko’s wife (Kassidy Yates), said that after Brooks shaved his head, he was “incredibly sexy.”
“I always wanted to touch it,” said Jerald.